Authentic assessment is one of the most practical methods of course evaluation. Unlike theoretical evaluation, authentic assessment gets the students involved in practical situations where they apply what they have learned during the course or program to solve a problem. 

For teachers and instructors, this evaluation method is highly effective. Authentic assessment does not ask the students to memorize and regurgitate theoretical information. It takes the learning process to a realistic context where knowledge is all about performance. 

Understanding authentic assessment methods for classroom learning can help you to assess your students’ abilities effectively, and provide better support for them as they learn. 

What is an Authentic Assessment? 

Authentic assessment is a course evaluation method where the students apply their knowledge to unique real-life contexts or situations. Jon Mueller describes it as a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills.

Instead of weighing a student’s performance against a standardized benchmark, the students execute tasks using the skills and knowledge from the course. It is all about getting the students to solve real-life situations by applying the skills and knowledge they have mastered. 

For example, after a course on good citizenship, the instructor can ask the students to talk about what they will do if an older adult boards a bus when all the seats are taken or how they will resolve a conflict. 

Using authentic assessment methods, the teacher can realistically evaluate a student’s ability based on how they apply what they have learned to the assignment. This method of course evaluation empowers the instructor to embrace innovation and objective judgment. 

Authentic assessment is often described as the meeting point between learning and evaluation. Instead of a one-size-fits-all rubric, the instructor defines unique standards for student performance, curates criteria for the tasks, and creates a realistic rubric to track performance. 


Characteristics of Authentic Assessment 

  1. Authentic assessment simulates real-life situations. Students are asked to participate in real-world tasks and activities to demonstrate their knowledge of the course or subject matter. 
  2. There are no right or wrong answers in authentic assessment. It is all about showing how the student can use the knowledge from the course in real-world contexts and scenarios. 
  3. Authentic assessment questions are presented as poorly-structured problems. 
  4. It requires in-depth creativity and originality. The students have to think outside the box to create unique solutions to the problem. 
  5. Authentic assessment methods are tailored to 1 specific and well-defined purpose. 
  6. It is complex and action-oriented. Alternative assessments spur the students to research and look for answers. The students need to leverage a variety of skills and data collection methods to find practical solutions. 
  7. Authentic assessment involves both oral tests like presentations and written tests with open-ended questions.  
  8. Students get feedback from the instructor at different points as they engage in the tasks. It allows the students to leverage feedback and improve their solutions and suggestions until they arrive at the most practical and effective answers. 
  9. The instructor collaborates with the students to create alternative assessments.  

Examples of Authentic Assessment 

  • Studio Portfolios

This is a meaningful collection of student’s performance and an in-depth evaluation of how they have put their knowledge to work. Studio portfolios show clear patterns of a student’s growth and this helps the teacher to quantify the student’s progress and performance. As students create their portfolios, they reflect on their goals and engage in some degree of self-assessment. 

  • Role-Play

This is a type of experiential learning where the student takes on a specific role or character in a well-defined learning context. Unlike simulation games, role play places students in distinct roles. The students may be asked to imitate characters in unfamiliar contexts. 

  • Memos

A memo relays information about a defined subject matter using the first-person point of view. Students collate data and then, use their imagination to weave texts from different perspectives. Sometimes, they can write like a real or imagined historical individual for a real or imagined audience. 

  • Presentations

Presentations are the most common method of authentic assessment. Students get to discuss their work and validate their ideas in the presence of a mixed audience made up of their classmates, teachers, and external stakeholders like parents and technocrats. 

Presentations build up students’ confidence and communication skills. Also, they prompt the students to take extra care and invest more time and thought before bringing their ideas forward. Since the students get to use different tools like slides and sticky notes for the presentation, they also develop some level of proficiency with these tools. 


You need to guide the students as they prepare for their presentations. You can ask them to prepare and turn in their slides early for review. You may also organize a rehearsal to help them get comfortable with speaking to an audience. 

  • Fishbowls

A fishbowl is a special type of group discussion involving hot seats. The teacher selects a small group of students who sit on these “hot seats” and respond to questions, ideas, and suggestions from the rest of the class on a specific topic or subject matter.  

Think of a fishbowl as a panel session with students acting as both panelists and members of the audience. The members of the audience sit in a circular arrangement around the panelists to map out the perimeter of the fishbowl. 

Fishbowls are not impromptu; the students are given the topic of discussion ahead of time, and this allows them to prepare adequately. Apart from testing the students’ knowledge of the subject matter, fishbowls also improve communication, active listening, comprehension, and group discussion skills. 

  • Simulation Games

Sometimes, the teacher creates a case study with different scenarios mirroring the specific topic or subject matter discussed in the class. Students are then assigned different roles within the case study or asked to play different characters within the scenarios. 

The students get copies of the case study before the simulation game. This way, they fully internalize their roles and have access to data, background information, and the descriptions of the characters they will represent in the game. 

Mock court proceedings, mock doctor-patient consultations, and simulated town hall meetings are common examples of simulation games that happen in the classroom. 

  • Case Studies

You can ask your students to build up case studies of real-life contexts related to the subject matter. For instance, in gender and reproductive health training, students may conduct an in-depth evaluation of maternal mortality rates in their community, and present their findings. 

A lot of work goes into building case studies. The students have to draft different closed-ended and open-ended research questions and collect real-time data from members of the research population using different methods including surveys, interviews, and observation. 

  • Proposals

A proposal is a well-researched document that shows how a student will solve a particular problem. Here, the student needs to outline his or her ideas, tie these ideas to specific goals and objectives, and justify the methods to be used for solving the problem. 

Writing a proposal is important because it allows students to vet their ideas and develop a full-proof solution. It is a blueprint for the student’s final project and it convinces the instructor to approve the ideas and suggestions for further exploration.  

To collect submissions easily from students, you can create a simple online submission form with Formplus. This form has a file upload field where students can submit e-copies of their proposals. It also has several text fields where students can fill in project descriptions and their bio-data. 

  • Policy Briefs

A policy brief is a formal, structured, and professional presentation of a proposal. It is written in industry jargon for a specialized target audience who already know about the problem and may have even carried out some level of research on the subject matter. 

In many cases, the student is asked to present the policy brief during a seminar or other similar academic events. For example, students in Applied Linguistics can write a policy brief on instrumental phonetics, and students of Counselling can present a policy brief on juvenile delinquency. 

  • Reports

Students may observe real-life contexts related to a particular subject matter and submit a report on their observations within a specific period. For example, after volunteering in a local charity event, students can complete an online report sheet or turn in their reports via a Formplus online submission form. 

How to Use Formplus to Conduct Authentic Assessment 

  • Writing Memos

You can create a Formplus online form combining long-text and short-text fields. Edit the long-text field to include a description of the context of the memo; the students can write the memos in the long-text field and submit them when they are done. 

You can also add a file upload field where students can submit an e-copy of their memo as a PDF or other file formats. You can also generate a custom prefill link for every student and send it to them via email invitations. 

  • Proposals, Policy Briefs, and Reports

Just like memos, students can submit these as file uploads in the Formplus submission form. Since these are extensive projects, you do not have to include long-text fields where the students can directly write the proposal, policy brief, or report. However, you can include text fields for descriptions and bio-data. 

Advanced fields like the digital signature field and date-time validation field add another layer of authenticity to your course evaluation process. The digital signature field, for example, allows students to add their e-signatures as they make submissions. 

  • Case Studies

Formplus forms do the groundwork for you when it comes to building case studies. You can create different types of quizzes and surveys to structure your data collection process and help you to gather and process the information on time. 

With Formplus, you can collect qualitative and quantitative data from your target audience. We have more than 30 form fields for listing questions in different formats including rating questions, open-ended questions, multi-choice questions, and close-ended questions.  

  • Presentations

Students can submit copies of their slides and other presentation materials via a Formplus online submission form for review. You can use the teams and collaboration option as you review these documents so that everyone sees your suggestions and learns together. 

The Formplus multiple users’ feature allows you to add students and other stakeholders to a shared Formplus account. This way, everyone can work together on forms and responses. The audit trail shows all the changes that have been made to your forms, reports, themes, and responses.

How to Create an Online Form with Formplus

  • Create a free Formplus account here. You can also visit to sign in to your existing account. 

  • Click on the create new form button to access the dashboard. 
  • Drag and drop the form fields from the form fields section to start creating your online form. 

  • Edit each form field by including questions and options as required. Save all your changes to access the builder’s customization section. 

  • Use the form customization options to change the look and feel of your form. Add background images, play around with different themes and use new fonts on your form. 

  • Copy the form link and share it with your students. You can also send out prefilled links via email invitations. 

Advantages of Authentic Assessments

  1. It encourages students to actively participate in the evaluation process. 
  2. Authentic assessments provide verifiable evidence of a student’s knowledge and application of that knowledge. 
  3. It prepares students to take on real-life challenges. Learners apply top-level logical and analytical skills to solve different real-world situations. 
  4. Authentic assessments provide teachers with a holistic overview of the student’s performance in the classroom. Its detailed processes reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the students and also show learning gaps. 
  5. It integrates assessment and instruction to create a detailed evaluation process. 
  6. Authentic assessments build the student’s problem-solving skills and enhance one’s ability to apply knowledge to real-life contexts. 
  7. More than assessing the student’s performance, authentic evaluations focus on accelerating the student’s growth. 
  8. It enhances teacher-student collaboration and creates positive teaching and learning relationships in the classroom.

Disadvantages of Authentic Assessment 

  1. It is difficult to grade students using authentic assessment methods. These methods do not have any right or wrong answers; they depend on how well the students interpret and uniquely address the challenges and contexts. 
  2. Authentic assessment is highly subjective and the results can be unreliable.
  3. The validity of authentic assessment methods is affected by the absence of a standardized evaluation benchmark.
  4. It is time-consuming and requires a lot of hands on deck; especially when you have a large class. 
  5. Authentic assessments typically require detailed, personalized, and specific feedback which can take a lot of time. 


In this article, we have explored the different examples and characteristics of authentic assessment for classroom learning. Authentic assessment bridges the gap between the learning process and the real-world. Students can see and take part in solving real challenges using the knowledge from your course. 

Authentic assessment is time-consuming and demands more resources because of its practical nature. To optimize the entire process, it is best to use tools like Formplus, which can help you gather and process data swiftly. When done in the right way, authentic assessment creates long-term value for both and students. 

  • busayo.longe
  • on 11 min read


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