The Real Deal: Using formative assessment techniques in authentic assessment delivery, to improve law degree academic performance
Accruing critical reasoning skills is a vital component in optimum academic law degree performance, yet the traditional ‘paper-based’ assessment methods are not best equipped to teach the skill, or monitor progress. However, authentic assessment techniques – which are closely aligned with activities that take place in real work settings, as distinct from the often artificial constructs of university courses – when delivered in extra and co-curricular activities (ECCAs), have been proven to improve law degree academic performance. The authors assert that as long as the ECCAs are delivered with academic law degree learning outcomes taken under consideration, and are rigorously delivered by staff who are trained and experienced to elicit optimum student performance, students will benefit from authentic assessment in other indirectly connected areas of their academic lives. By delivering authentic assessments methods in ECCAs, a combination of formative and summative techniques used throughout the assessment processes improves student performance, which thereby has positive cross-impact onto law degree academic performance. This two-way communicative assessment strategy allows students to benefit from continuous mid-assessment feedback, which serves to best demonstrate the adversarial nature of the legal system and the demands placed on lawyers to provide clear, simple, usable legal advice – a skill best learned in the ECCA authentic assessment environment, rather than in the artificial ‘one-shot’ approach to traditional coursework and paper-based exam assessments, which provides primarily a summative assessment and/or a weak/unusable formative element in future assessments.