Giving students the choice of authentic assessments in the Chemistry laboratory



Authentic assessments, Questionnaires, Laboratory, Assessment choice, Student-led inquiry


Incorporating authentic assessments into a laboratory program can improve students’ engagement and satisfaction whilst developing highly valuable employment skills (Schultz et al., 2022; Sokhanvar et al., 2021). It can promote a deeper understanding by having students translate their data and findings to a real-world audience of stakeholders – occasionally not from the scientific community (Jopp, 2020).

Another assessment strategy is to empower students with a choice of assessments to complete. A choice of assessments can increase student motivation, confidence and engagement whilst reducing the anxiety around assessments (Patall et al., 2010; Garside et al., 2009). This promotes self-regulated learning, self-efficacy and can lead to improved academic performance (Jopp & Cohen, 2020).

At The University of Sydney, students complete four experiments in their laboratory program during their first semester of first year chemistry. Each experiment has a different style of authentic assessment associated with it. Students are provided with the opportunity to select one of these four experiments (and its associated authentic assessment) to submit as their major laboratory assessment for the semester. At the end of semester, students (n = ~750) were questioned about why they had selected the assessment they submitted. In this presentation, we analyse how popular the different authentic assessments were amongst students and look at some of the motives behind why these assessments were selected.


Garside, J., Nhemachena, J. Williams, J., & Topping, A. (2009). Repositioning assessment: Giving students the ‘choice’ of assessment methods. Nurse Education in Practice, 9(2), 141-148.

Jopp, R. (2020). A case study of a technology enhanced learning initiative that supports authentic assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 25(8), 942-958.

Jopp, R. & Cohen, J. (2020). Choose your own assessment – assessment choice for students in online higher education. Teaching in Higher Education 27(6), 738-755.

Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Wynn, S.R. (2010). The effectiveness and relative importance of choice in the classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 896.

Schultz, M., Young, K., Gunning, T., & Harvey, M. (2022). Defining and measuring authentic assessment: a case study in the context of tertiary science. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 47(1), 77-94.

Sokhanvar, Z. Salehi, K., & Sokhanvar, F. (2021) Advantages of authentic assessment for the improving the learning experience and employability skills of higher education students: A systematic literature review. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 70, 101030.