Implications of Perceptions of a Teacher Implementing Authentic Assessment
Wright, William A.
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The problem. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively describe and document the perceptions of a teacher as she implemented authentic assessment in a sixth grade classroom. Specifically, this study was to answer the following research questions: (a) What were the experiences and perceptions of a teacher as she implements authentic assessment in sixth grade science? (b) What student changes were observed during the treatment time period? Procedures. Four sixth-grade life science classes were instructed by the subject of this study utilizing authentic assessment. Instruction consisted of one 45-minute lesson per day over a 10-week period. Data was collected through a qualitative design that included interviews, journaling, audio/video recordings, memos/notes, personal observations, and other documentation such as examples of student work/projects, lesson plans, and evaluation instruments. Findinqs. The analysis of the data collected was categorized into 10 Assessment Criteria Benchmarks. Nine of these benchmarks were based on teacher perception and one was based on student performance. The findings included the following observations: the teacher's degree of risk-taking increased as the project progressed; the teacher perceived time, issues of fairness, and designing appropriate assessments as primary barriers or problems; the teacher perceived more students successful and taking a greater responsibility for their learning while authentic assessment strategies were used in the classroom; and the teacher observed lower functioning students performing at a higher level during authentic assessment activities. Conclusions. The results of this study support the conclusion that the authentic assessment method may be a valuable assessment alternative to be utilized in the classroom. Also, the results support the conclusions of Fullan (1992) and Hall (1976) that change is a process, a journey, not a blueprint and that every person needs to be his/her own change agent. Recommendations. The results of this study indicate that although authentic assessment is time consuming and not applicable in all situations, it is a viable alternate assessment method. More research should be conducted to examine the relationship of authentic assessment strategies and the educational outcomes for students of varying abilities and learning styles.