Scaffolded authentic assessment for students in logistics and supply chain management

Scaffolded authentic assessment for students in logistics and supply chain management

Authentic assessments create options for divergent learners and provide opportunities for applying practical and higher-order cognitive skills in tertiary education system of an emerging economy, said researchers from RMIT University in Vietnam.

Professor Robert McClelland, Dean of School of Business & Management at RMIT Vietnam, said that one of the important characteristics of any assessment is the development of relevant competencies to simulate or replicate workplace experiences, which is termed authentic assessment and defined as true to life or work ready.

“Simultaneously, an authentic learning environment is seen as a complementary real-world practice in response to worldwide pressures to increase employability for fresh graduates,” Professor McClelland said.

“An ever-changing technological landscape has remodelled the traditional higher education (HE) core business.

“Online, distance and blended learning has seen a transformation due, in part, to innovative learning management systems which support student learning experience and increased engagement.

“Good assessment practice can positively impact students’ learning quality and stimulate deeper learning in tertiary education.”

Vietnam is ranked 48th on the human capital index (HCI) as the second-fastest growing economy after Singapore in ASEAN, with a GDP growth of 7% in 2019, according to the World Bank’s report in 2020. The manufacturing industry has flourished and Vietnam is the second-largest rice and coffee producer in the world. Additionally, it is a top-ten exporter of garments and one of the leading furniture and high-tech manufacturers.

Considering this significant growth, Vietnam’s higher education numbers have almost doubled since 1999. According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), in 2017, there were 446 registered universities/colleges with enrollment reaching 2.24 million students.

Keeping the need to consider industry demands and how authentic assessment can blend academic knowledge with real-world experiences in the classrooms, the Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM) team at RMIT University in Vietnam examined the design of assessments and developed a different series of scaffolded assessments that aimed to make the assessment clearer and more visible to students, helping them connect, learn and improve for each upcoming task.

Dr Reza Akbari, research lead and LSCM expert, said that, “over the course of nine semesters, we focused on the research-led contemporary curriculum design for LSCM course by blending the currently available information from academic journals and direct input from the authors as the teaching experts in this discipline”.

en-news-1-scaffolded-authetic-assessment-for-students-in-logistics-and-supply-chain-management Assessment regime in RMIT Vietnam Logistics and Supply Chain Management course

The team used the adapted Authentic Assessment Framework (AAF) as an illustration of how authentic assessment can be applied in a university and effectively implemented broadly for HE students.

Dr Akbari shared that scaffolded assessments are integrated to support student learning, where assessments are linked to each other, and learners receive feedback to improve in the next assessment.

“This learning process method is adapted to the students’ needs with appropriate assistance to ensure learners reach the learning goals,” he said.

“All the assessments have to reflect back to three general course learning outcomes (CLOs), including the applications of key LSCM theories and concepts, leadership and organisational skills to propose solutions to operational problems, and effective communication within a team environment.”

All the assessments were introduced throughout the semester and linked to one company. During each semester, the team negotiated with one logistics company to invite them for an online or face-to-face guest lecture followed by a company visit, if possible.

“These interactions with the industry partners were organised to deliver an authentic environment to drive the achievement of the CLOs,” Dr Akbari said.

“All the assignments were linked to the company, helping students learn about their LSCM, identify any potential issues and provide possible solutions.”

The teaching team utilised four-steps of the five-step cyclical model to systematically approach and articulate the CLOs, including:

  • designing learning activities and assessments where the team designed individual creative work (posters), collaborative creative learning (video presentations) and summative assessments (online case studies and individual reflections);
  • establishing evaluation criteria where the team developed an analytical rubric followed by different levels of ratings for criteria such as content, delivery and research and synthesis in the analysis.
  • deploying activities and implementing assessments; and
  • reflecting and revising.

“Although devising authentic assessments and moving away from a test-centric system still presents challenges, the authentic assessments enable students to go beyond remembering fragmented evidence and move towards capturing, understanding, applying and integrating new ideas with supporting literature. Theoretical concepts are linked with professional practices, critical analysis and evidence-based decision making,” Dr Akbari concluded.

The paper ‘Design, implementation and academic perspectives on authentic assessment for applied business higher education in a top performing Asian economy’ was published on Emerald Insight, led by Dr Akbari and involved other RMIT School of Business & Management researchers including Lecturer Dr Nguyen Manh Hung and Associate Lecturer Kristof Van Houdt.

Story: Ha Hoang

  • Research
  • Logistics

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