Assessment Design: Perspectives and Examples Informed by Universal Design for Learning

Section 2.4: Assessment Methods and Examples – Authentic Assessment

Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessments are designed to resemble a task, project, or activity that learners may perform in the real world. Authentic assessments ask students to demonstrate their understanding in a more meaningful application, which fosters students’ higher order thinking and skills such as communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

Authentic assessments are learner-centered as they focus on student’s interests by encouraging them to play a more active role in their learning as it is more meaningful and relevant to their lives. From a UDL perspective, authentic assessments provide learners the opportunity to demonstrate skills or competencies that they can apply in their future jobs in different ways. For example, instead of describing different career options, an instructor may ask learners to investigate career options for themselves. As part of their assignment, students are encouraged to reach out to professionals in their field and get expert advice on career development. This assignment will help foster legitimate peripheral participation as they encourage the learner to engage with experts in an authentic and meaningful way.

Here is a UDL-informed example:

Pierre teaches Multiculturalism and Social Justice. He has created a community engagement assignment in which students are required to engage in social activities and reflect on community decision-making process.

  • Prior to this community engagement assignment, Pierre asks students to rewrite the outcomes of this activity and set up achievable goals, including how to measure their own success in community engagement.
  • He then provided rubrics for this assignment and shared with students.
  • Pierre gives students the choice to identify the organization they want to engage with based on their interests and future career development.
  • Pierre offers an online workshop on how to contact different organizations and provides general information to some organizations.
  • Since students are required to reflect on their experience, Pierre offers some sample work from previous cohort and suggested that video presentation and/or written work are both acceptable.
  • For students who want to take on challenges, Pierre offers bonus credit if a student decides to engage with multiple organizations and compare the similarities and differences of the decision-making process.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

A Comprehensive Guide to Applying Universal Design for Learning Copyright © 2022 by Dr. Seanna Takacs; Junsong Zhang; Helen Lee; Lynn Truong; and David Smulders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book