For a senior student majoring in civil engineering whose future job will involve designing and constructing bridges and roads, a real-world project is more effective than a three-hour exam for evaluating competency and knowledge.
In a real-world assignment, a student has to survey the terrain and create a detailed technical design with references from many resources including advice from an experienced civil engineer.
This is one of the examples that Mr Milton Nomikoudis, Education Consultant, RMIT, gave at a recent seminar held by RMIT and the Department of Education and Training (DOET) in Hanoi.
Thirty-six principals and teachers from secondary schools and high schools in Hanoi attended the inaugural event, called The value of authentic learning and assessment - What do these mean to your students, our teachers and our society?
Authentic assessment covers ways in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate the meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills.
Accordingly, students perform a task that is relevant to the world we live in, preparing students for more complex learning in the future.
A key feature of authentic assessment involves learning that goes beyond mere recall.
In an ordinary test, students are asked to memorise content and then prove how much they have remembered. Meanwhile, authentic assessment seeks deeper signs of learning. It requires students to apply themselves in order to discover a solution.
“Also, authentic assessment goes beyond whether we are right or wrong, and applying ourselves more deeply using our skills and knowledge to address an issue or a problem,” Mr Nomikoudis said.
“Hence, one benefit of this approach is that students will become more dynamic, resourceful and confident, and can better integrate into an international environment in the future.”
Ms Dao Thi Tuoi, a teacher at Nguyen Sieu Secondary and High School, shared the authentic assessment practices which she applies.
Instead of a written test, at Nguyen Sieu, students are given a three-week business project in which they have to plan, fundraise, choose products to sell and event deliver goods to end users.
A teacher is at their side along the way in case advice is needed. This way, students apply knowledge gained in and out school to tackle real problems.
While discussing current practices at RMIT, Mr Nomikoudis said lecturers act as facilitators of learning, while students are active collaborators and co-creators of knowledge, rather than being passive receivers of information.
“RMIT students are exposed to real industry issues and people and have the opportunity to apply course knowledge to provide solutions for companies,” he said.
At the end of the seminar, Ms Bui Thi Minh Nga, Deputy Manager, High School Education Department, DOET, Hanoi shared her thoughts on the day.
“DOET highly appreciates valuable seminars like this. This is a great opportunity for high school leaders to access new knowledge on assessment approaches. Time-restricted and closed book tests will be replaced with authentic assessment,” she said.
“The leaders will circulate new knowledge to other teachers at their schools.”