Let students ask any question for an authentic assessment experience


  • Katrina Blazek School of Population Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia


authentic assessment, asynchronous online, feedback


Individual assessments typically require students to submit work that is entirely their own. But what if we allowed students to ask any question, including ones directly related to content? To foster a more authentic assessment experience, students in an elective biostatistics course were given the opportunity to ask the course convenor any question that would help them progress their analysis, even if it was directly related to assessable content. The primary goal was for students to receive actionable feedback that would help them “improve and self-regulate their work” (Irons & Elkington, 2021). The task was optional and was communicated using the Transparency in Teaching and Learning framework (TiLT; Winkelmes et al., 2019). Students were required to propose a solution to their question together with the rationale for that course of action. Most questions related to known grey areas of statistical modelling which was expected given that students are encountering this skill for the first time. Students benefitted from the reassurance that their reasoning was sound and they were on the right track. An unexpected benefit was that the task provided a new way to dialogue with students in an asynchronous online environment. Students also indicated they appreciated knowing they had the option to ask any question, even if they didn’t use it.


Irons, A., & Elkington, S. (2021). Principles of Formative Assessment and Feedback. In Enhancing Learning through Formative Assessment and Feedback (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Winkelmes, M. A., Boye, A., Finley, A., & Tapp, S. (2019). Transparent Design in Higher Education Teaching and Leadership: A Guide to Implementing the Transparency Framework Institution-Wide to Improve Learning and Retention. Stylus Publishing.