Authentic Assessment – A Primer

Assessment strategies featured imageWhen we assess our students, we do not always have them complete work that connects to real-world scenarios and effects upon the real world. This is where authentic assessment comes in, requiring students to apply their learning to realistic situations that require them to use their judgment, skills, and critical thinking capabilities. Authentic assessment is an alternative assessment, in that it does not follow traditional approaches like a multiple choice quiz.


  • A class discusses the history, actions, and effects of social actions. Students could then be asked to find a community issue that inspires them, with a task to make a real-world impact upon their chosen issue.
  • Students may be asked to produce a product, and justify how they resolved problems in producing their product.
  • Students may be asked to apply knowledge from early childhood education courses to actions they observe from children as a means of determining behaviors that were learned about in class.
  • Students may be asked to weave cultural stories to give a greater sense of self to their classmates.
  • Students may be asked to critically assess the environmental impact of building a new highway through an already shrinking forest.


Authentic assessment helps students make use of their higher order thinking skills in applying their learning. This helps students demonstrate understanding of their learning, and cement it by taking part in an action. In authentic assessment, learning becomes a process, where students continually learn due to their application of prior learning.

Help with authentic assessments

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers one on one assistance with instructors that want to explore the topics of authentic assessment, alternative assessment, design, instructional technology, curriculum, soft skills, and more. Please take a moment to complete our contact us form, or call the CTL at (708) 974-5347.

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