The purpose of the study was to answer the following questions:
1. What features, tools and methodologies are currently used in assessment paradigms in courses in post-secondary education?
2. Which of these methodologies provide authentic assessment appropriate for an online learner assessment paradigm in an introductory computer science or information technology course?
This section identifies those methodologies instructors reported using that provide authentic assessment and the reasons they reported for judging them effective. Authentic assessment differs from traditional assessment in that it measures what learners can do with the knowledge they have gained. Wiggins’s (1998) characterizes authentic assessment as follows:
[Authentic assessment] is realistic,... requires judgment and innovation,... asks the student to “do” the subject, replicates or simulates the context in which adults are “tested” in the workplace in civic life and in personal life,... assesses the student’s ability to efficiently and effectively use a repertoire of knowledge and skill to negotiate a complex task,... and allows appropriate opportunities to rehearse, practice, consult resources, and get feedback on and refine performances and products. (p. 23)
The finding that collaborative testing is seldom used in introductory computer science, information technology, or similar courses is surprising in light of the extensive literature on collaborative learning and learner-centered education at the post-secondary level. According to the literature, collaborative learning is taking a foothold in post-secondary curricula as the current trend in learner-centered education. Team work in the market place is so prevalent that this assessment methodology appears to be a logical stepping stone to learner career development. In the field of computers and technology, the team approach is used extensively in developing new products and services.
It was not surprising to find that outcome- or performance-based assessment is widely used and strongly recommended for an introductory computer science or information technology course which requires extensive student interaction, project development, and online assignments. Neither was this finding surprising in light of the knowledge and skills students must acquire for performing numerous interactive tasks in the field of computer technology.