Authentic assessment may be desirable, but is it enough?

Teaching and Learning Conference

Keynote Presenter: Professor David Boud

Authentic assessment has been developed to address some of the many problems of university assessment: making assessment more relevant to course learning outcomes, motivating and engaging students, and giving students a taste of what they might be doing once they graduate. When implemented well, it exhibits many features that address obvious defects in previous assessment practices. However, we need to focus on more than the relatively simple matter of redesigning assessment tasks. What needs to accompany authentic assessment if it is to realise the potential it offers? What else should be considered in meeting the challenges of assessment for learning in the world our graduates face?

Professor David Boud is the Director of the Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning, at Deakin University and an Emeritus Professor at The University of Technology Sydney. David has been a pioneer in developing learning-centred approaches to assessment across the disciplines, particularly in building assessment skills for long-term learning.

Educational Assessment in New Zealand: The Intersections of Three Perspectives

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenters: Roohollah Kalatehjari & Samira Kakh

Traditionally assessments are designed to determine whether and to what extent students are learning. Such information plays several roles, it gives feedback to students about their competence in their fields of studies, it informs course facilitators of the quality of teaching and learning, and also turns into data that policymakers can use to evaluate programmes and predict whether their prospective graduates will acquire the learning required to build the graduate profile. Assessment research has investigated and confirmed the importance of assessments, instruction, syllabus, curriculum, and graduate profile outcomes alignment. 

In order to understand how students represent knowledge and explore the implication of cognitive development in learning for improving educational assessments, a research group was established. Members of this research group are from New Zealand University, ITP, and PTE sectors. Several focus group discussions took place to critically evaluate and analyse assessment goals and types and the nature of student accomplishments at different educational contexts. Then, a comparative investigation was done to determine whether the assessments used in three different educational contexts which designed to assist learning, measure learners’ achievement, and to evaluate programmes and courses make students’ thinking visible to themselves and their course facilitators and lectures. Such investigations also stimulated arguments on how educational contexts impose constraints on assessment design. 

Attendees at this showcase will hear of the results of those discussions and what students are learning, at very fine levels of detail, when educational assessments are presented as a facilitator of learning. Ways in which facilitators can produce valid and fair assessments that stimulate further thinking and productive uses of assessments will also be discussed. 

Dr Roohollah (Roo) Kalatehjari is a Lecturer and Director of the Geotechnical lab at AUT. He joined AUT in 2017 after successful completion of his two postdoctoral fellowships in Taiwan and Malaysia. Roo is currently the paper leader for the BE(Hons) Industrial Project, Geotechnical Engineering, and Foundation Engineering papers. Dr Samira Kakh is a lecturer and researcher in the fields of education, business, and management. She has taught communication, critical thinking, and sustainable practice and operations management in New Zealand and has presented extensively in international conferences. She has thought postgraduate courses in the areas of Research Methodology, Capabilities for Managers, international trade and English for Academic Purposes.

Assessing dispositional qualities for interprofessional collaborative health-care practice

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenters: Todd Stretton, Brenda Flood, Jane Morgan & Angela Brenton-Rule

Core attributes for safe, efficient and effective clinical practice include a working knowledge of roles and interaction with, from and about other professionals that are developed through interprofessional learning (IPL). Interprofessional learning is best experienced though authentic, situated learning where students from a number of health care professions work together. In this way, they develop a common language, interprofessional reasoning, and expand their health lens to prioritise patient-centred health care.  

IPL opportunities for undergraduate healthcare students have been developed in a joint project between the School of Clinical Sciences and School of Interprofessional Studies at AUT. Students from the seven clinical professions housed in the School of Clinical Sciences are organised to collaboratively engage in interprofessional practice while learning skills common across the professions. Currently about 800 students have engaged in online learning (module one), followed by two interprofessional practice sessions (modules 2 and 3) for an IPL unit titled Moving and Handling. The three modules are embedded, compulsory components in each of the seven clinical programmes. During the practical sessions, students purposefully learn and practice the skills of moving, handling and transferring patients together in small interprofessional groups, facilitated by an interprofessional educator and specialist physiotherapist.    

A challenge in the embedded IPL programme is the assessment of dispositional qualities; viewed as central attributes to patient-centred care. While interprofessional roles, the use of appropriate unambiguous language and shared clinical reasoning can be assessed in written, verbal and/or procedural forms, the dispositional qualities are less able to be assessed in a similar manner.  

Attendees at this showcase will be provided with information on the shared vision, aims and teaching-learning strategies for the IPL programme and developing an authentic assessment of dispositional qualities that has relevance across the health professions.

Todd Stretton, Brenda Flood, Jane Morgan and Angela Brenton-Rule are educators within the Schools of Clinical Sciences and Interprofessional Health Studies. With a background in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing and podiatry (respectively), the presenters are part of a collective Interprofessional Steering Group tasked with imbedding interprofessional education in all undergraduate Health Science degrees. The IP Steering Group has been pro-active in the planning of content, delivery and assessment of interprofessional learning for students in the respective programmes.

Undergraduate student engagement in an anatomy and physiology course during an interprofessional health education ‘common semester’

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Stephen Brown

Courses with authentic content and assessment may increase student engagement, however, this is problematic when students in multiple disciplines are taught together. A course without discipline-specific authenticity may contribute to student disengagement. 

In this study, student engagement was measured by questionnaire in a large introductory course taken by students from a wide range of health disciplines with diverse career aspirations. The structure of the questionnaire was examined using exploratory principal component analysis – this identified four components of engagement: Skills; Emotional; Participation/Interaction; Performance. 

For each student, engagement component scores along with the academic score, were entered in a twostep cluster analysis. Two groups were identified, a ‘low engagement / low achievement group (n=136), and a ‘high engagement / high achievement group (n=281). 

The low engagement / low achievement group comprised 18% nursing, 5% midwifery, 7% paramedicine, 12% physiotherapy, 32% sport & recreation, and 26% standard, whereas the high engagement / high achievement group comprised 21% nursing, 8% midwifery, 10% paramedicine, 18% physiotherapy, 13% sport & recreation, and 30% standard. Skills engagement was the dominant variable in predicting cluster membership, and sport & recreation students scored lower on this variable when compared to all other disciplines. 

It is possible that a perceived lack of content and assessment authenticity was experienced by students in the low engagement / low achievement group, whereas students in the high engagement / high achievement group recognized content authenticity which aligned with their own discipline. 

It is suggested that constructs of course engagement may be useful variables to consider when assessing the authenticity of both teaching and assessment in undergraduate courses.

Attendees at this showcase will be introduced to the constructs of engagement and student’s perception of authenticity within a mixed discipline course. Attendees will be encouraged to consider the complexities of delivering an authentic student experience to diverse career aspirations.

Dr Stephen Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Interprofessional Health Studies, specialising in teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology. Stephen’s research is in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) with an interest in student engagement and students’ experience when entering tertiary education. 

He Hokinga ki te Mauri: Strengthening teaching te Tiriti o Waitangi

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Heather Came

Universities have a responsibility to prepare graduates to work with te Tiriti so their practice can align with professional and ethical standards. 

Despite the strategic importance of the kaupapa and the Waitangi Tribunal, recent WAI 2575 findings reveal that our health system has failed to address health inequities; literature on teaching te Tiriti remains sparse. 

We suggest that addressing this gap by applying Tiriti-based assessment processes is an important step to ensure our staff and students engage te Tiriti learning and application in meaningful ways. We introduce He Hokinga ki te Mauri [a return to vibrancy] as a framework for teaching and assessing te Tiriti informed by decades of practical experience engaging with anti-racism work. 

The framework consists of three parts. Firstly, te upoko which involves working with students to drawing out an intellectual rationale for engaging with Tiriti and covering core curriculum. Secondly, it offers strategies for te ngākau – involving heart and wairua [spirit]. Thirdly, ngā ringa – involves practical application in relation to one’s professional and personal sphere of influence. Working with the ongoing impacts of colonisation gives rise to a range of politically and emotionally charged topics; we believe our method might strengthen teaching and learning associated with decolonisation.

 We suggest that assessment of te Tiriti knowledge, confidence and application require creating learning conditions and assessment based on ‘ako’ – a reflective and dialogic focus on learner desires, inclinations, dispositions and motivations. An assessment process underpinned by ako involves developing tools that critically link reflection and action. This reflexive assessment processes deepens the potential efficacy of Tiriti-honouring thinking and doing.

Attendees at this showcase will be introduced to the three parts of the framework. This will be followed by interactive group discussion. Question and answers will be taken throughout.

Dr Heather Came-Friar is a seventh generation Pākehā New Zealander and a Senior Lecturer with Taupua Waiora. Her background is in health promotion and social justice activism and she is a founding member of STIR: Stop Institutional Racism. Her research focuses on critical policy analysis, te Tiriti o Waitangi and anti-racism.

Immersive Journalism: Playing with Virtual Reality

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Helen Sissons

In the last few years some of the most respected names in journalism, including the BBC, the New York Times and the ABC, have been experimenting with immersive technologies such as 360-degree video and, more recently, virtual reality. Such technologies allow for intimacy and immediacy never before seen in news and open up new possibilities for news storytelling. For the last three years, AUT’s journalism programme has included a final semester, capstone assessment in which students produce a piece of long-form immersive journalism, but up until now it has not involved 360-degree video or virtual reality.  In collaboration with Dr Thomas Cochrane, from CfLAT , the pair used authentic practice-based principles to design a workshop to introduce students to the basics of creating 360-degree and VR elements for their long-form story. A core feature of the workshop was the students working in teams to film and compile an interactive experience based in the Media Centre on level 5 of WG. The work of the teams was then pooled to create an interactive experience where the audience can enter the Media Centre virtually and interact with “hot spots” to learn about newsroom features such as x-lite phones, the student website and the TV studio.  

Attendees at this showcase will be shown student examples and attendees will have the opportunity of experimenting with Google Cardboard HMD to visit the Media Centre virtually (smart phones required). Demonstration of how participants can create their own VR environment using a simple web-based platform will be shown.

Helen Sissons is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism. Her research interests include the evolution of journalism practice, specifically how technology has affected newsrooms. She specialises in newsroom ethnography. She has written scholarly articles on journalism practice and the teaching of journalism, as well as a textbook, Practical Journalism (2006, Sage).

Assessments for Learning: A space for reflection and imagination

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Terry Weblemoe

Is there space for reflection and imagination in authentic assessment?

A challenge for any curriculum is authenticity regarding the requirements students will face in their, often unwitnessed, future practice. A client-centred approach requires critical imagination and empathy. Without reflection into realities of complex lived experiences, a practitioner’s ability to engage with future clients, with understanding and compassion, is unlikely. Our assignment asks first-year students to reflect on a significant communications event (personal or case study), its context and impact. Students analyse this event through relevant, age-appropriate psychosocial theory exploring the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects. They are then invited to consider as a future healthcare provider how and why they would adapt their own communications with someone of a similar age-stage and situation. This supports a reflective, informed way of working, using the Borton’s model of: ‘What’, So what’ and ’Now what’. This logic strategy situates reflecting on experiences as pivotal for constructing improved ways of working in the future. In each of the three progressive iterations, a 600-word assignment requests analysis using different sets of age-stages and contextual lenses. Marker comments emphasise constructive feedback intended to create a progressive improvement. This feedback-loop assists students to strengthen their meta-cognitive competencies, particularly a habit-forming consideration for reflection to inform practice, as well as improving academic skills. Being informed by the recall of past events that might then inform an unknown future, this assessment tests the boundaries of authentic assessment. In so doing, we accept that a client-centred approach means that every event will be unique. While the exact imagined communication performance described is unlikely, the required thinking process required (cognitive demand) would be similar: that of utilising critical reflection on the experience and context of self and others, and thereby providing strategic options of possibility. 

Attendees at this showcase will be encouraged to reflect on a specific personal communicative event that significantly impacted their professional practice. Then discuss how critical reflection and sharing of stories might be applied to other assessments. 

Terry L. Weblemoe is a Lecturer in the School of Interprofessional Health Studies. After travelling extensively in USA and Canada, Terry studied Anthropology and Nursing. After nursing in New York, Florida and Auckland, Terry completed MA(Anthro) and joined AIT/AUT University in 1999. Terry has interned at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication and is currently doing a PhD on how new nurses learn communication skills. 

Authentic Assessment for ‘Ghostbusting’

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Lisa Maurice-Takerei

Ghostwriting was first defined in the mid 2000s by Clarke and Lancaster [1] as students actively seeks another person to undertake an assessment task for them. Generally, this form of cheating is seen as a commercial transaction where money changes hands [2]. There is a perception among academics that there is a rise in this type of academic misconduct overall. Recent studies suggest that surveys designed to determine the prevalence of this kind of cheating are not reliable and so it is difficult to ascertain how common contract cheating is in Higher Education and whether or not there has been a recent increase in incidents of contract writing. Nevertheless, while several studies have focussed on software for the detection of ghostwriting and plagiarism many universities lack consistent policies and procedures to tackle ghostwriting. Glendinning [3] however, suggests that policies and procedures aside, the place of academic as at the frontline in terms of detection and deterrence of ghostwriting cannot be ignored. Indeed, the topic of ghost writing has been high on the agenda of learning and teaching concerns throughout our faculty over the last months. In response to the suggestion that academics are at the front line in terms of the detection and deterrence of ghostwriting, we propose authentic assessment design as a response to this phenomenon.

Attendees at this showcase will be introduced to the 4Ds of ‘ghostbusting’ gleaned from a former contract writer, David Tomar, who identifies a range of strategies under the headings; Design (including differentiation), Deterrence, Detection and Dedication. Attendees will be invited to combine their collective knowledge, in discussion, to develop a resource/strategy in response to their own teaching environment as a response to the 4 Ds.

Dr Lisa Maurice-Takerei is and Academic Development Advisor at AUT who works with academics as they navigate their unique teaching contexts. Lisa believes that teaching and learning presents constant opportunities for growth and transformation; “at its best it changes us”. She helps academics recognise that Teaching and Learning is a negotiated process that presents opportunities to review and recast at a personal, paper and programme level.

[1] Clarke, R., and Lancaster, T. (2007). “Establishing a systematic six-stage process for detecting contract cheating,” in 2nd International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Applications, 2007, (New York, NY: ICPCA 2007), 342–247.

[2] Newton, P. M. (2018). “How Common Is Commercial Contract Cheating in Higher Education and Is It Increasing? A Systematic Review.” Frontiers in Education 3: 67.

[3] Glendinning, I. (2014). “Responses to student plagiarism in higher education across Europe,” in International Journal for Educational Integrity, 10:1, 4-20.

CONEST: An Implementation of Authentic Assessment through Capstone Projects and Internships in the Computing Degree

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Maria Elena Villapol

Central University of Venezuela (UCV) is the largest public University in Venezuela yet is constrained by limited financial resources, most of which are used to pay for staff salaries.

Administrative Academic Management (AAM) is a core function that manages the vital processes of student enrolment, student grade recording, and student transcript management. Until 2006, those activities were performed almost entirely manually with few uses of Information Technologies. This caused student data processing delays, human errors, and inconsistencies. 

In 2006, a group of academic staff wrote a proposal to automate the AAM processes in the School of Computing. The plan involved final-year Computing students constructing the new system through their capstone projects, to overcome constraints and meet and respond to an organisation need. 

A key characteristic of authentic assessment is the authenticity which can be ‘understood as realism, contextualisation and problematisation when teaching and assessing curricular content’ [1]. The authenticity of the capstone project was measured within the assessment criteria; students were assessed on their abilities to build ‘real’ software by applying industry valued skills of software development methodologies and programming, whilst understanding the context from which their problem rose. 

The new AAM system CONEST was fully developed by 60 students and supervised by Academic staff – who displayed understanding, leadership, disciplinary rigor, perseverance and a deep sense of belonging to the organisation. As a result, the students were eager to complete their work and proud to contribute to the University.  

Attendees at this showcase will view video student testimonials and hear of experiences, key success factors and ways in which authentic assessment can be applied to similar programmes at AUT.

Maria Villapol has been a lecturer and researcher for more than 25 years. She strongly believes education is the only way to build better countries and consequently, a better world. Since she finished her degree in Computer Science at the Central University of Venezuela, she has been committed to working towards this goal. Currently, she is a lecturer in the School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences at AUT. Her research areas of interests include Learning and Development, E-learning, and Service Science.

[1] Villarroel, V., Bloxham, S., Bruna, D., Bruna, C., & Herrera-Seda, C. (2018). Authentic assessment: creating a blueprint for course design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(2), 840–854.