Thank you, Catherine, for giving me an opportunity to
discuss these important questions.
I will be drawing on a number of resources during this
week’s online discussion, but, in order to make this less academic, I will not
be citing these resources in the text. I will post a bibliography on Friday.
I think I will start with the first two questions, but in
the opposite order:
Can performance-based assessments be designed in such a way that
requires students to demonstrate their ability to apply, analyze, synthesize
and evaluate what they have learned?
What constitutes well-designed performance-based assessment?
The quick answer to the first question is, yes, performance
assessments can be (and have been) designed in such a way that elicit students’
abilities to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information in the 21st
My answer to the second question is that a well-designed
performance assessment, like any assessment, should include tasks or situations
that elicit behaviors or performances that reveal the knowledge and skills that
are the target of measurement (e.g., ability synthesize and evaluate
information). In the end, one wants to observe performances that support the
inferences and assumptions underlying test score interpretations.
With performance assessments, the behaviors one most often
(but not always) wants observe are those that they would observe in the
“real-world” outside the testing situation – authenticity is one of the
hallmark characteristics of performance assessments. The trick, then, is
designing the assessment tasks so that they, to the extent possible, elicit
behaviors consistent with real-world behaviors. The testing context, of course,
poses many necessary constraints, some technical, some practical, that require
designers to use a principled approach to developing the performance tasks.
Technology can help overcome some of these constraints, but can also, if not
carefully integrated, lead to measurement error.