Authentic Assessment

We will develop programme-level assessment design that gives students diverse but manageable assessment, and allows staff to give incisive feedback for learning. We will promote assessment methods which allow students to preserve legacies of their work, visible to employers and external stakeholders, and which develop digital capabilities.

Authentic Assessment is a contested term which can encompass a broad range of activities, ranging from the vocational and applied, through to assessments that engage learners in different ways, those that innovate and those designed to assess knowledge rather than proficiency in completing tests. The approach may be programme level or, applied to smaller formative or summative exercises. The Authentic Assessment theme of the CDF brings together a range of exemplars and frameworks to showcase, inspire and act as a stimulus for development of assessment authenticity through the design process.


An initial question to ask, whether considering a programme level assessment strategy or individual assessment is likely to be: to what extent and at which points is your assessment approach purposively designed as an ‘assessment of learning’ (summative) or ‘assessment for learning’ (formative).

Explore the case studies, resources and reflective prompts collected here to help you embed inclusive learning in your own curriculum design, or contribute your own case studies of innovative practice to the CDF.

Case studies: authentic assessment

These case studies from Keele demonstrate good practice in embedding authentic assessment in the curriculum

Stoke Stories: Embedding transformative social learning and community engagement

Industrial Chemistry

Collaborative design, delivery and evaluation of an authentic assessment

Enhancing knowledge and digital skills for implementing evidence-based practice

Developing the Scientific Reporting Skills of Chemistry Students through Dialogic Assessment-Feedback Cycles

Student-generated video creation for the assessment of communication skills

Sustainable Chemistry

Development of Shell Modules for Placement Learning

The Impact of Patient Identity on Healthcare Delivery

A Themed Edition of a Biotechnology E-Journal as the Assessment for a Level 6 Case Studies Module

Authentic Assessment in Foundation Year Computer Science

Combining Blended Learning with Role Play in an Online Simulation of the Bletchley Park Enigma Codebreakers in WWII

Resources: authentic assessment

Apprenticeships End Point Assessment [Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education]
End Point Assessments are an independent synoptic assessment conducted at the end of an apprenticeship programme to determine whether the apprentice has achieved the requirements of their occupational standard and can be awarded their apprenticeship. Each Apprenticeship standard has a nationally agreed EPA, designed by a trailblazer group led by employers, as a measure of occupational competence
National Teaching Fellowship project that aimed to develop a pedagogic model to enhance students’ ability to identify and discriminate effectively in their use of online resources. Designed to maximise the use of digital resources in professional learning the AACTS model (Authentic Assessment for Critical Thinking Skills) was supported by an online tool the web-resource appraisal platform (WRAP). This guided students through a structured process helping them develop their skills to discriminate and select between online resources.
Constructing Written Test Questions For the Basic and Clinical Sciences [National Board of Medical Examiners in the USA]
Lays some ground rules for ensuring that questions assess knowledge/reasoning rather than exam-craft.
Authentic Assessment as a key component of Salmon’s Carpe-Diem Framework
How to design them:
  • start with a ‘brief’
  • what a future employer would consider valid and significant
  • emphasize realistic complexity ambiguous, ill-structured tasks or problems.
  • 'problems or issues’ from your own practice, or from case studies.
  • collaboration that is similar to that experienced by practitioners in the field
  • simulations of role-play or scenarios;
  • use resources taken specifically from real-world examples
  • offer a range of assessment tasks of how well the student thinks like a practitioner/expert i.e. moving through the threshold portal
What helps:
  • holistic projects
  • students work and/or reflections collected over time
  • possibilities of different judgements 
Engaging learners with authentic assessment scenarios in Computing [Siobhan Devlin, University of Sunderland]
HEA Annual Conference 2017 - Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight
This presentation introduces the Professional Practice Weeks that are now a feature of our assessment regime in first year computing at the University of Sunderland. It will seek to describe the motivation for introducing the change three years ago and to report the outcomes of the change focusing on both challenges and successes. I will examine whether the more authentic context and content of the assessment has actually fostered greater engagement and professionality in the students and whether this change in assessment has indeed prompted a need for changed teaching and learning approaches during the ‘normal’ teaching timetable.
The Diversifying and Expanding Online Exam Provision project launched in 2017-18 investigating moving written exams online and exam delivery on students’ own laptops. Initial evaluation indicates high student satisfaction while academic staff report improved legibility and the ability to mark with greater fairness.
This contains useful resources for anyone thinking of developing an apprenticeship programme. In addition to guidance materials, rich and updated video content is incorporated through its National Centre for Excellence in Degree Apprenticeships ( NCEDA) pages
Patient Information Leaflet as an Assessment [Brighton & Sussex Medical School]
A patient information leaflet that second-year students at Brighton & Sussex Medical School have to produce.
Teaching in Times of Disruption [The International Learning Design Cross Institutional Network]
Alternative Assessment Resources in the pandemic
Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment TESTA [Bath Spa, Chichester, Winchester and Worcester]
TESTA works with academics, students and managers - and for students, academics and managers – to identify study behaviour, generate assessment patterns to foster deeper learning across whole programmes, and debunk regulatory myths which prevent assessment for learning.

Reflective Prompts

Consider the following questions to identify possible starting points for further development of authentic assessment in your programme or module:

  1. What is the purpose of your assessment and is it fit for this purpose?
  2. Do you use a range of assessment methods in your programme?
  3. To what extent is your assessment: a) Relevant? (in that it is relevant to the content and application of learning) b) Authentic? (Uses students real world understanding) c) Contemporary? (Aligned to contemporary education models and assessment approaches)
  4. How do you encourage student-centred or student-led assessment?
  5. How does your course or module design foster assessment literacy? What do you do to ensure a consistent understanding of assessment criteria and encourage discussion to develop shared understanding?
  6. How does your assessment test knowledge and skills? How and to what extend do you use assessment feedback to develop student learning?
  7. How does your assessment drive engagement and sustain motivation?
  8. How do you use assessment outcomes and experiences to review your academic performance/the performance of your programme?
  9. What has been the impact of employing alternative assessments (e.g. in Covid)?