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Authentic Learning & Assessment

Learning Design for Higher Education


This design is an example of authentic, future-focused learning and assessment for an online undergraduate course in project management. Below you can see a student-facing task instruction sheet for the assessment, and a marking rubric, both of which I designed using best practice, evidence-based approaches.

Project Info




Theory & 


Authentic assessment for online undergraduate course 


Course / Assessment / Rubric Design


Authentic learning and assessment, Andragogy, Future-focused learning, Race (2019)


The design brief for this concept project called for an assessment for a fully online undergraduate course on project management. The learning outcomes were provided, with a requirement for an assessment worth 50% of the total grade for the semester-long course and the need to make the assessment authentic. 

The assessment


I based the design around Jan Herrington's authentic learning and assessment frameworks, which are all about providing learners with learning experiences and integrated assessments that realistically emulate the way students will use their knowledge in real life - especially for their work in the future. 

To make it as future-focused as possible, I designed an assessment in which learners produce an essential document that real project managers create for every project: a project plan, which students in the course put together for a scenario of their choosing. As in real life, the intended audience of their project plan is the project sponsor, and their plan must include a number of elements expected in real projects.


As the course is foundational, the learners are provided with plenty of scaffolding and support towards building their final project plan, as well as lots of collaboration, discussion and feedback with peers and the teacher in the course's discussion boards, which helps them co-construct knowledge while creating their project plan (see outline below). To make the assessment inclusive, I followed the Universal Design for Learning principle of providing multiple means of engagement for students, who can choose to submit either a written report or a video for part 2 of the assessment.


Finally, in creating the assessment in the context of the course, I used the Backward Design framework to ensure alignment: I used the prescribed learning outcomes to guide my design of the assessment, creating assessment criteria that directly measured learner’s achievement of the learning outcomes, and then ideated learning activities that were authentic, engaging and collaborative, and that would help build learners build the competence to succeed in the assessments.

Here's a basic outline of weeks 1-5 of the course, with the assessment due in week 5: 



The rubric


The rubric is designed according to a 5 point scale with 2 as the passing grade, with performance levels and labels common to Australian uni courses. In following best practice, I created the rubric to be useful for both markers AND students. To do this, I wrote performance descriptors that use clear, descriptive language to describe expected performance, rather than the common pitfall of using overly vague evaluative terms such as 'excellent', 'good', etc. 


In this way, it functions as formative guidance and feedback for students, who can use it to gain a clear understanding of what is expected, while the marker has a guide that easily allows them to distinguish between levels of student performance, and provide meaningful formative feedback to students. 

See the task sheet and rubric below.

Project Management course outline

Student-facing Task Instructions

Student Instructions - PMF 1 pg 2-min.png

Marking Rubric

AL+A Assignment 2 - Cameron Curtis updt copy-min.png
Rubric - PMF 1 pg 2-min.png

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