At DSA, we don’t just teach the processes of innovative instructional design,
we actually do it, day in and day out.

TIPS Newsletter

Let’s Make It Authentic

Designing Authentic Assessments for Authentic Learning

About  DSA

Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

  • accomplish internal custom projects
  • train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.

Check out DSA presenters and Consultants at

DSA Tips Newsletter Archive

Many more ideas and resources are available at the DSA Tips Archive; now searchable, organized by subject area, and by release date.  Topics include:

  • Project Management
  • Front End Analysis
  • Design Strategies
  • Instructional Strategies/Techniques
  • Measurement/Evaluation
  • Implementation
  • Professional Development
  • Coaching with DSA Tips

We have lots of great ideas just waiting for you to use!

Tap into DSA’s expertise and experience!

Call me at 831-649-8384 or email me at

Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) Presents

The Course Developer Workshop – Online

Get one-on-one guidance and feedback as you work through your own authentic project during the lessons.  Your expert facilitator, Dr. Paul Swan, will provide feedback and suggestions for you. In addition to all the online lessons and Dr. Swan’s personal assistance, you’ll receive the complete workshop guide.

What are participants saying about this workshop?

“The content in this workshop is extremely useful and timely as I am putting together curriculum for our summer academy as we roll out a new CRM system to our field representatives.”

Most Valuable:

“The Objectives Portion- making sure they are measurable and I can confidently say the participants are able to do the job.”

“The content re: learning objectives. This is the bedrock to ensuring the training is valuable and resonates with the target audience.”

“Using learning objectives to be sure my training meets the business need.”

Check out DSA presenters and Consultants at:

Bring our expert presenters on-site with a workshop from DSA. Click here for details. Call or E-mail Jane Sink to help you decide which workshops are right for your group.

We described in Part 1 of the Let’s Make It Authentic Tip that Authentic Learning is a relatively new term that describes learning through applying knowledge in real-world contexts and situations. We suggested that you start to create more authentic learning by writing Authentic Learning Objectives – that is, learning objectives that reflect real-world situations.

In part 2 we focused on authentic learning activities that can help our learners realize those Authentic Learning Objectives we have created – activities that reflect the challenges and situations our learners will face as they do their jobs.

In part 3 – Designing Authentic Assessments for Authentic Learning, we suggest you review your authentic objectives and again think of the real world situation. What will your learners actually need to be doing on the job?

Here’s an Example

In a project DSA once did with HP, we were faced with needing to train people new to the job of Order Processing. You know – the people that would be taking your order for a computer or printer as well as very large orders from businesses, non-profit organizations and the government.

So what will the learners be doing on the job? They must process orders completely and accurately! So what should be required for an authentic assessment of their having learned to process orders correctly?

What we did was to get real orders that had been received in the past by HP order processing centers and required learners to first practice each type of order and then do one more for their final assessment for each type (approximately 30 different types).

We had computers for learners and in a separate training, they were taught how to maneuver through the real order processing software and learn what all the fields were used for.

OK, so let’s just have them process orders using the real software. But wait a minute! We don’t want to have them actually place these past orders for shipment.

So our client went to the IT folks and asked for their help. They were able to allow the trainees to use the real software, but lock them out from sending the order.

So how can we check that they did the order completely and correctly? Simple actually…The participant processed their orders and then printed them out for the instructor to review to be sure they were complete and accurate before letting them go on to the other types of orders.

So, you have to get creative sometimes to put together authentic assessments, but in crucial situations, like this one you need to know the learners will be up to speed right away back on the job.

The next time you want to make sure your learners will be up to speed quickly without a lot of on the job coaching, try to make the assessments as authentic as possible.

See you next time.


Many more ideas and resources are available at the DSA Tips Archive; now searchable, organized by subject area, and by release date.