Board Games as Authentic Assessments: Keep Learner Fears in Perspective

Showcase Presenter: Patsi Davies

Authentic assessment is ‘a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills [1]. Board games are one such form of assessment. AUT offers Tobacco Control (HPRM705), a compulsory paper in the BHSc Health Promotion/Public Health major. Students who are going to work in tobacco control, whether it is in policy, education, or smoking cessation, will deal with risks, strategies, and consequences and will collaborate with their peers. 

To address these employability factors, the Tobacco Control written assessment was replaced with a ‘Group Initiative’, where learners design, play and teach others board games based on the game of Snakes and Ladders: a group game of strategies (ladders), risks (snakes) and consequences. Class members initially express the following concerns about this assessment: ‘Designing a board game is really different and scary’, ‘Working with our peers on a ‘new kind of assessment’ is a risk’, ‘Having minimal requirements for the game is not helpful’, ‘We are busy and it is hard to get group members together’, and ‘I am not the creative-type’, yet their final products reveal meaningful application of skills and knowledge – authentically linking assessment to the real world. 

Attendees at this showcase will be provided with examples of board games that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills and invited to reflect on the main fears that underpin the above concerns and to devise remedial actions.  

Patsi Davies teaches in Public Health. She believes that when learners create their own learning experiences, magic happens. Inspired by her rural school teachers, Patsi offers board games as an assessment; enabling teamwork, thinking, making, curiosity, whimsy, and joy that is visible. Patsi received the VC’s Teaching Excellence Award, and is a Senior Fellow, Ako Aronui.

[1] Mueller, J. (2005). The Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Enhancing student learning through online faculty development, Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 1-7. Retrieved from