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Site Visit: The Assessment Toolbox

Jon Mueller, a professor of psychology at North Central College in Illinois, has developed the Authentic Assessment Toolbox. The toolbox is an online resource for instructors who want to develop authentic activities and curriculum. Authentic Assessments require students to “perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills.” For example, in a computer science class, rather than complete a multiple choice test about computer viruses, students would write a memo to the CEO of a large company advising her on the best virus protection software for her company’s system. In a Cell Biology class students could write an objective report that summarizes proposed legislation on stem cell research.  Authentic Assessment asks students to perform tasks that require the skills and knowledge they would use as a professional, or simply as an adult engaging with discipline-specific information. These assessment tasks work best when paired with solid rubrics. The toolbox includes information about, and guidelines for designing authentic assessment activities. There are also examples of assessments, rubrics, and student-work. Though many of the examples come from high school instructors, the toolbox is very useful for educators at the university level. Let us know what you think.

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