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Tutoring as an Authentic Assessment of Soft Skills

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It can be tough at times to get the insights we need to assess our work as higher ed professionals.

Much of what we do is working firsthand with students which leaves few options to know if we’re doing a good job.

This is where authentic assessment can come in. Authentic assessment is defined as a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills (Jon Mueller). When juxtaposed with other assessment methodologies like direct and indirect (coursework assignments and surveys respectively), authentic assessment is well positioned to better serve our goals when it comes to measuring competency with serving students. It’s something we integrate here at Knack too!

In addition to measuring performance, authentic assessment can be useful when recruiting team members to gather insights as to how well they will do in the job versus just asking questions about it. You can see firsthand how they would interact with students.

Once someone is doing the work, you can still utilize authentic assessment to build skills and monitor quality. Positioning authentic assessment alongside other direct and indirect methods makes sure you’re getting a comprehensive picture of performance in a job.

When supporting peer student leaders, authentic assessment is even more important to training them effectively, scaffolding their growth, and measuring their performance to key learning outcomes. They are at a developmental stage where there is more of an emphasis needed to make sure they are proficient with the necessary skills when they graduate.

For example, if you had peer tutors who needed to be measured on their ability to conduct successful, caring sessions with their fellow students, you could develop a suite of authentic and indirect assessments. You could train them initially with role play scenarios, then as they progress, continue to track the satisfaction of the students they’re serving, and then utilize further simulations as needed to support their growth with their areas of growth.

Authentic assessment shines with these type of important soft skills that can be difficult to nurture otherwise. Integrating them is simple to do and the results will be positive for everyone involved. Your students will be better served and you’ll be able to have more confidence in the work your team is doing.

Authentic assessment can be a very useful asset in your development toolkit that can be utilized in a number of different ways.