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Authentic assessment targeting sustainability outcomes: a case study exploring student perceptions

Rana Asgarova (School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)
Anne Macaskill (School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)
Wokje Abrahamse (School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 6 June 2022

Issue publication date: 5 January 2023

119

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to understand student experiences of authentically assessed community partnership projects and reflect on authentic assessment from a social and environmental sustainability perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors present an elaborated case study including graduate-level courses at a university in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The authors draw on a thematic analysis of in-depth semi-structured interviews and written reflections from 18 students.

Findings

Students appreciated the benefits of authentic assessment, such as workplace realism, a greater level of personal investment and opportunities to draw on diverse skills. Teams varied in how they navigated novel challenges and in their ability to develop focused projects capable of affecting change for sustainability. Students considered group work the greatest obstacle to achieving sustainability goals.

Originality/value

The case study provides a novel contribution by exploring in-depth the student experience of authentic assessment activities designed to foster social and environmental sustainability outcomes. The authors provide practical limitations of authentic assessment and discuss tensions between authentic assessment and other education goals.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project was supported by the Victoria University of Wellington Learning and Teaching Research Fund 2019. We would like to thank Andrew Wilks (Director, Sustainability) and Marie Cocker (Poutaki/Senior Programme Advisor Māori) for their time and support in partnering with our students.

Citation

Asgarova, R., Macaskill, A. and Abrahamse, W. (2023), "Authentic assessment targeting sustainability outcomes: a case study exploring student perceptions", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 28-45. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2021-0266

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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