An analysis of the impact
of an authentic assessment strategy on student performance
in a technology-mediated constructivist classroom:
a study revisited
Andrew Scholtz, Information
and Communication Technology, Turfloop Campus, University
performs a number of important and well documented
roles in learning environments where it is used as
both a formative and a summative tool. However, one
of the most contentious roles that assessment plays
is its role in high stakes accountability testing.
Over the years a degree of standardisation of summative
assessment has occurred that appears to satisfy society's
need for certainty about the validity and reliability
of summative assessment practices, particularly in
the case of high stakes accountability testing. Promotion
of competent learners at schools and tertiary institutions
depends on the outcome of this assessment, as does
the process of warranting learning, while employers
rely on these outcomes when deciding on whom to employ.
This form of assessment practice has strong roots
in the behaviourist paradigm and relies on "scientific
measurement of ability and achievement" for its "authority".
So strong is the hold of the behaviourist approach
on summative assessment practices that it is "presumed
to hold the high ground" even in constructivist classrooms.
In this paper a study undertaken in 2002 that considered
the implementation of a computer-mediated, constructivist
learning environment is revisited in light of tensions
concerning validity and reliability between the behaviourist-informed
measurement community and the authentic assessment
practices of the socio-constructivist community. The
results of student performance in the assessment that
took place in the original study are reassessed and
discussed in terms of the behaviourist versus constructivist
debate with respect to assessment. Apart from the
obvious wider implications, this debate has particular
relevance with respect to institutional online learning
implementation via staff development programmes.
This paper attempts to raise issues regarding assessment
in constructivist learning environments that appear
not to get the attention they deserve, probably because
these issues go to the heart of our high stakes accountability
testing system. However, if we are to advance the
cause of the pedagogy best suited to supporting technology-mediated
learning environments -- one in which assessment is
central to learning -- then a great deal more energy
needs to go into consideration of these issues.