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Authentic Assessments and the External Examiner

The Role of External Examining in Higher Education: Challenges and Best Practices

ISBN: 978-1-83982-175-2, eISBN: 978-1-83982-174-5

Publication date: 17 May 2021


A key role of the external examiner is to review student work submitted for assessment plus the feedback and grading undertaken on that work by academic staff. The aim of this is to ensure equitability between the assessments of individual students’ achievement and consistency and comparability across courses throughout the program and with commensurate study levels and programs at other institutions, whilst safeguarding academic standards. The variety of assessment-types that an external examiner may review can be diverse. When the primary focus of the work being assessed is tangible, such as with written examinations or assignments, external examiners are able to view student achievements and assessor actions through a lens comparable to that of the original assessors. However, this process cannot adequately capture assessment-types where the only evidence is proxies to the original achievement. In this chapter, the authors explore the concept of authentic assessments, the benefits of incorporating them within study programs, identify challenges pertaining to their presence to holistic quality assurance (QA) processes in general, and the role of the external examiner in particular. The authors will demonstrate how adopting non-intrusive technologies for recording and verifying authentic assessment practices can strengthen the QA process for the benefit of all stakeholders. For illustration, a case study is employed to demonstrate how these challenges have been tackled regarding performance-based authentic assessments at an institution in Norway. The chapter concludes with a summary plus a call to arms for further research into how quality and consistency can be assured when authentic assessments are employed.



Burgess, M. and Phillips, H. (2021), "Authentic Assessments and the External Examiner", Sengupta, E., Blessinger, P., Ssemwanga, A. and Cozza, B. (Ed.) The Role of External Examining in Higher Education: Challenges and Best Practices (Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Vol. 38), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 43-59.



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