The diverse and variable nature of practice settings for those engaged in pre-service learning models, as well as the subjective nature of professional judgment involved, means that consistent and equitable assessment presents numerous challenges for universities and professions such as teaching and social work. In the field of education, researchers such as Pecheone & Chung, (2006) have called for a greater focus on how assessment models can more accurately assess the actual professional practice and knowledge levels of beginning teachers in pre-service teacher education programs (Ure, 2010, p. 58).
Authentic assessment in practice settings: a participatory design approach is a two year, ALTC funded project designed to take up this call. The project has adopted a cross-disciplinary approach and aimed to analyse how institutions in Australia organize and assess within the field placement component of teacher education and social work. A major outcome of the project is the development of online resources to better assist those in higher education and practitioners in reaching equitable assessment judgments. This paper will report on the stages of the project and the significant findings of the study to date.
The first stage of the project involved a review of practicum assessment across both fields. Beginning with the theoretical position that authentic assessment and best practice is contextualised, evidence-centered, holistic and performance based, our review has revealed some exemplars as well as a lack of connection in some aspects of current professional experience assessment practices. Early findings indicate that while authentic assessment is occurring in many practice contexts, it rarely finds its way into summative tertiary level judgment in explicit and documented ways.
The second stage of the project involved workshops with groups of teachers and social workers. The workshops using design pattern methodology (Alexander, 1979), aimed to elicit assessment cases from practitioners and then develop these cases into practical templates. The final stage of the project involves developing an online repository for the assessment design patterns. The repository will be structured around both the professional standards (education and social work) as well as a number of methods used to facilitate authentic assessment, and contains a variety of design patterns that can be used for assessing each standard. A unique feature of the repository is that it is generative, containing provisions for practitioners to edit existing assessment patterns or generate and upload new patterns.