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

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.