Rather than a multiple choice test or an essay, what if we assessed knowledge through its real-world application?
Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins first presented authentic performance tasks (APT) in the 2004 book Understanding By Design. Several different iterations of their concept are widely available on the internet. We'll provide an overview and links to some of those resources. First, let's look at why authentic tasks are important to learning, particularly for adult learners.
McTighe's Performance Task blog leans toward K-12 usage of APT, but APT may be even more useful for adult college students. APT places students into a realistic situation where they demonstrate the application, rather than simply recall, of key concepts and essential questions. Since adults have more broad contextual experiences, implementing refined and discrete knowledge is easier for them. Broader forms of learning tasks allows for varied responses from different students using their diverse experiences. Commonality though, is found in the list of learned concepts that must be used to solve novel problems or scenarios.
The use of problem-centered learning, relevant subject matter, and self-direction in formulating the response to the learning project are all characteristics of Malcolm Knowles' theory of Andragogy. As opposed to pedagogy, Knowles focused on the way adults learn, particularly experienced adults -- i.e. returning adults and graduate students. The use of APT's provides freedom for adult learners to tailor responses from their own perspectives, while ensuring the topical coverage is maintained.
EXAMPLE ASSIGNMENT FOR STUDENTS IN A COMPARATIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS COURSE:
Students select a country to compare with the United States throughout the course and others countries are assigned
The local Army base commander has asked your Chief of Police for help in understanding criminal procedures at two deployed locations. Specifically, the base commander would like to know what types of processes differ from U.S. criminal procedure. The chief knows that you are a criminal justice student and asks for your help. The task it to provide a briefing on the different criminal process systems in two locations to which the base personnel are deploying. The first deployment location is Saudi Arabia; the second is your selected country (Jamaica or Brazil). The Army personnel deploy with their own police, and so the American military system is well-known to all. Therefore, there is no need to restate American processes. Instead, to streamline the briefing, the base commander would like either a 10- to 15-slide PowerPoint presentation or an instructional video outlining similarities and differences between American law when compared to Saudi Arabia and (your selected country). Review the rubric for this assignment to understand the assessment criteria
This example assignment follows the G.R.A.S.P.S. format of Wiggins and McTighe.
Goal - Brief Army personnel on foreign criminal justice practices
Role - You are the trainer
Audience - Army personnel
Situation - Personnel are preparing to deploy overseas and must know how to work with foreign police forces
Product/Performance and Purpose - A presentation -- written using graphics or video
Standards and Criteria for Success - the provided rubric.
The goal of APT is to create for students an environment where their learning may be applied. The college classroom is an excellent place for them to practice these skills.
Examples of other ATPs can be found on the internet, such as these examples from slideshare user CHRISTINEKTO12. LINK
In 2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt presented at a School Improvement Summit. Their version of G.R.A.S.P.S. is S.C.R.A.P. and is provided for comparison. The information is included in the PDF attached to this page.
For more detailed coverage of APT, visit Jay McTighe's blog at this LINK