In this blog, Andrew Lee, Assistant Professor, explains how the Malaysia Foundation Programme used authentic assessments to support students to develop their knowledge and skills, and to reduce opportunities to just google the answer.
Try Googling it up, I am sure there is an answer to your question. We would often receive such a response when we enquire from a friend or a family member on a certain matter and they have no idea or an answer. In the same vein, some students take the easy way out and rely on Google for answers to their assignment or examination questions. Google has become the go-to virtual library for anything and everything. Undoubtedly, it offers a plethora of sources that one can refer.
To circumvent and reduce the likelihood of students easily obtaining answers from Google, lecturers need to be ahead of the game. Villarroel, Boud, Bloxham, Bruna and Bruna (2019) proposed that realism, cognitive challenge, and students’ evaluative judgement be incorporated when planning, administering, and following up of assessment tasks to improve the authenticity of assessments.
In the context of the Business Management course in the Malaysia Foundation Programme, the summative assessments for each semester have closely considered these. For semester 1, students work in groups to start an online business of their choice for approximately 7-8 weeks with the guidance from their lecturer. As they are rather new to the university and semester system, working in groups provide them the much-needed peer support and ability to tap on each other’s strength to run the business. They are assessed on aspects like creativity, product development, marketing and how they deal with customer enquiries. As a hands-on assignment and the fact that no two businesses are similar, it is unlikely they could find a solution to this assessment from their good buddy, Google.
In the following semester, students undertake a task where among others they complete a self-reflection of their personal leadership style. Based on their past experiences as a leader in clubs and societies at school or university they reflect on how they could improve their leadership and apply it in their future career. For students who have no experience leading a project or undertook leadership roles at school, they are given a choice to relate to themselves leading their siblings at home. With options such as these and relying upon their own experiences, students will have little opportunity to turn to Google for answers.
Subsequently, in their final semester, students undertake a capstone project where they select and study a small or medium size business of their choice. They then recommend a strategy to further develop the chosen business. These are businesses they are familiar with either through family ties, friends, or their former part-time workplaces. This then gives them the confidence to enquire and probe for more information from these business owners through an interview. More importantly, this assignment provides an avenue for them to step-up and view themselves like owners of the business. Such authentic assessments are unique to each student and the possibility to seek answers from Google is rather remote.
These authentic assessments hinges on real world situations, involves analytical (eg. comparing, relating, contrasting, interpreting) and transfer skills (eg. judging, deciding, criticizing, suggesting, designing, innovating) as studied by Anderson & Krathwohl (2001), and develops students’ evaluative judgement through feedback and discussions with peers and the lecturer. According to Mueller (2005), authentic assessments such as the above, allow students the opportunity to construct meaning from their learning. It requires students to apply the knowledge acquired into the relevant context and justify their point of argument, skills which they eventually will need at work and are unGoogleable.
Anderson, L. and Krathwohl, D. A. (2001) Taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.
Mueller, J. (2005) ‘The Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Enhancing Student Learning through Online Faculty Development’, Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, 1 (1).
Villarroel, V., Boud, D., Bloxham, S., Bruna, D. and Bruna, C. (2019) ‘Using principles of authentic assessment to redesign written examinations and tests’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 57 (1), pp. 38-49. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2018.1564882