Authentic assessment and online learning

The extract below is taken from Deden and Herrington (2002), ‘Strategic issues shaping online adoption’, a paper presented at the HERDSA conference that year. The full paper is available here.

Constructivist approaches to learning have placed a great deal of pressure on designers and teachers of online courses to ensure that pedagogical approaches rather than technological availability guide the instructional design and development of web-based units and courses. There is pressure to replace more teacher-centred courses with student-centred approaches (Black, Sileo, & Prater, 2000; Housego & Freeman, 2000), and to emphasise more authentic learning settings (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989) (Barab, Squire, & Dueber, 2000; Cronin, 1993; Herrington & Oliver, 2000; Lebow & Wager, 1994), and problem-based learning tasks (Reeves & Laffey, 1999; Roschelle & Behrend, 1995; Savery & Duffy, 1996). The role of the teacher has changed from that of instructor to guide or coach (Cuban, 1993; Greenfield, 1984), assessment has a more fundamental place in the learning process (Reeves & Okey, 1996; Wiggins, 1990), and collaboration is acknowledged as an important element in student learning, both in face-to-face situations and online (Del Marie Rysavy & Sales, 1991; Jonassen, 1995; Oliver, Omari, & Herrington, 1998; Qin, Johnson, & Johnson, 1995). In adopting these approaches, the nature of the learning moves away from abstracted knowledge-based learning to learning that supports both authentic contexts and the completion of tasks that reflect the genuine practices of the professional (Herrington & Oliver, 2000).