This paper reports on a three-year study conducted in Western Australia, which commenced in January 2008, and was completed by December 2010. It concerns the potential to use digital technologies to represent the output from assessment tasks in two senior secondary courses: Engineering Studies and Physical Education Studies.
The general aim of this study was to explore the potential of various digitally based forms for external assessment for senior secondary courses in terms of manageability, cost, validity and
reliability. The problem being addressed in this research is the need to provide students with assessment opportunities that are authentic, where many outcomes do not lend themselves to
being assessed using pen and paper over a three-hour period, and that are also able to be reliably and manageably assessed by external examiners. These two courses both have a significant performancebased component, and a certain level of dissonance results when students have performance expectations, and teachers teach to the theory examination in an attempt to
ensure high pass rates.
In Engineering Studies, a computer-managed examination was designed that consisted of a design task that was broken down into a number of timed activities. Students were paced through each activity, recording their input in the form of a portfolio. Input consisted of text, graphics through a camera and voice, and the exam outputs were uploaded to an online repository for marking by external assessors.
In Physical Education Studies, a digitally based examination was designed that incorporated four interrelatedcomponents. Two of these required computerbased responses and two were videorecorded practical performance components. Digital output from all parts of the task was
collated into evidence portfolios and uploaded to an online repository for marking by external assessors.
This paper focuses specifically on issues of authenticity in relation to the examination tasks designed for each course. It discusses longstanding concerns relating to authenticity associated with courses with a strong performance dimension in which there tends to be a dissonance between the teaching and learning of theory and practice. Ways in which digital technologies were utilised to address these issues are critically examined in this research.
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