Authentic Assessment: Definition


Good assessment practices should be at the centre of our course and program design. Assessment is used to assess learning against defined course objectives and can motivate students to engage with the course content. Assessment activities that generate excitement for learning in both staff and students is the motivator behind the UniSA Authentic Assessment Project (AAP).  Authentic learning activities as assessment lead to richer staff-student engagement, contributing to meaningful feedback, and better learning outcomes. Furthermore, assessment is effective when students see the task or activity as plausible, meaningful and relevant – authentic with integrity and legitimacy.


Authentic Assessment definition (PDF)


UniSA’s authentic assessment definition builds our existing assessment practices:

  • assessments that are valid, reliable and fair;
  • assessments that promote academic integrity; and
  • assessments that provide feedback that is actionable.

The following five characteristics of authentic assessment are widely considered as the critical elements of
authentic assessment:

  • assessment that encourages students to adopt higher order thinking;
  • assessments that inspire the application of relevant knowledge and skills;
  • assessment that stimulates students to think from multiple perspective;
  • assessments that motivates students to become problem solvers; and
  • assessments that connect learning to real life.

We encourage you to review your course assessment and whether they reflect one of more of the five characteristics of authentic assessment. It’s important to recognise that an authentic assessment does not have to reflect all five characteristics. Your assessment and the characteristics it develops should be contextualised to your course, academic year level, and programmatic approaches to assessment.  

A video on how to prepare an Authentic Assessment Statement can be found HERE.



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