Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 22 September, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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Authentic assessment

core definition

Assessment of students that uses practical and meaningful tasks to demonstrate the application of knowledge and attributes.

explanatory context

Lorne Triska suggested the inclusion of this concept and referred to the work of Jon Mueller, referenced below. Authentic assessment is contrasted with traditional (test-based) assessment. It is, in part, similar to the notion of aligned assessment as in Biggs workon constructive alignment but focuses specifically on 'real-world' tasks. Genrally, it is assessment that seeks to evaluate learning objectives in innovative and appropriate ways that make us of practical activities rather than just apply traditional examinination or testing techniques.

analytical review

Mueller (2011) defines authentic assessment as:

A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Student performance on a task is typically scored on a rubric to determine how successfully the student has met specific standards.


Mueller adds that:

Some educators choose to distinguish between authentic assessment and performance assessment. For these educators, performance assessment meets the above definition except that the tasks do not reflect real-world (authentic) challenges. If we are going to ask students to construct knowledge on assessments, then virtually all such tasks should be authentic in nature or they lose some relevance to the students. Thus, for me, this distinction between performance and authentic assessments becomes insignificant and unnecessary. Consequently, I use authentic assessment and performance assessment synonymously.


 Mueller also refers to two classic definitions:

"...Engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field." -- Grant Wiggins -- (Wiggins, 1993, p. 229, cited in Mueller, 2011, What is authentic assessment?)

"Performance assessments call upon the examinee to demonstrate specific skills and competencies, that is, to apply the skills and knowledge they have mastered." -- Richard J. Stiggins -- (Stiggins, 1987, p. 34, cited in Mueller, 2011, What is authentic assessment?).


Wikipedia (2010) defines authentic assessment as:

Authentic assessment is an umbrella concept that refers to the measurement of "intellectual accomplishments that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful,"(Wehlage, Newmann, & Secada, 1996, p. 23) as compared to multiple choice standardized tests (Performance-Based Pedagogy Assessment of Teacher Candidates, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, June 2004). Authentic assessment can be devised by the teacher, or in collaboration with the student by engaging student voice. When applying authentic assessment to student learning and achievement, a teacher applies criteria related to “construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry, and the value of achievement beyond the school.”


TeacherVision (2011) states:

Authentic assessment aims to evaluate students' abilities in 'real-world' contexts. In other words, students learn how to apply their skills to authentic tasks and projects. Authentic assessment does not encourage rote learning and passive test-taking. Instead, it focuses on students' analytical skills; ability to integrate what they learn; creativity; ability to work collaboratively; and written and oral expression skills. It values the learning process as much as the finished product.


North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (undated) states:

Authentic assessment is any type of assessment that requires students to demonstrate skills and competencies that realistically represent problems and situations likely to be encountered in daily life. Students are required to produce ideas, to integrate knowledge, and to complete tasks that have real-world applications. Such approaches require the person making the assessment to use human judgment in the application of criterion-referenced standards (Archbald, 1991). Authentic assessment is a contrast to traditional educational testing and evaluation, which focuses on reproducing information such as memorized dates, terms, or formulas.

associated issues

An authentic assessment, Mueller (2011) argues, usually includes a task for students to perform and a rubric by which their performance on the task will be evaluated.

related areas

See also

assessment of student learning

assessment of teaching and learning

value added



Mueller, J., 2011, Authentic Assessment Toolbox at, accessed 21 January 2011, not available 29 January 2012.

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (undated), Approaches to Authentic Assessment,, accessed 20 September 2012, page not available 31 December 2016.

TeacherVision, 2011, Authentic Assessment Overview available at, accessed 20 September 2012, page not available 31 December 2016.

Wikipedia, 2010, see Wikipedia, this entry liable to modification.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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