Since its introduction, the AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT has made waves across the education sector. Just one of many generative AI programs, the web-based tool has the ability to create comprehensive written content based on anything from a question, a statement or an instruction given to it.
ChatGPT has already proven that it is capable of creating content that can earn passing grades on assessments–resulting in greater opportunity for students to cheat on assessments and posing questions around how proving knowledge can be authenticated.
The opportunity of observational assessments
There has, understandably so, been cause for concern for educators; however, the rise of ChatGPT also provides a unique opportunity for the education sector to reconsider its assessment strategies to prevent further test fraud.
The adoption of different methods of testing, such as observational assessments, can provide additional layers of security making them less vulnerable to cheating than written assessments, especially with the help of ChatGPT.
Observational assessments test participants on a practical task while an instructor observes and rates the performance. Rather than relying solely on written assessments, observational assessments, similar to performance-based testing, measure the test-takers’ abilities in an authentic environment. As a result, the validity of results is increased, providing a more accurate picture of how they might perform in the real world.
There are already many use cases of observational assessments. The medical sector, for example, tests students on their clinical and communications skills via Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), a practical exam where students are tested in a ‘real world’ setting.
The future of assessments
With AI generator tools such as ChatGPT threatening the integrity of written assessments, the way we look to assess and prove knowledge needs to evolve.
There is a pressing need to review the ‘why’ behind assessment. My belief is testing is in place to show competence and demonstrate achievement, forming a key part of personal and professional development.
Observational assessments are one form of effective alternatives to traditional written assessments and provide an accurate way to measure real-world skills and are far more resistant to cheating (of course, it is important that scoring processes are robust, and that the right checks and balances are in place).
The future of assessment will, in my opinion, have to adapt to the rapidly changing learning environment those studying now find themselves in. Increased use of observational assessments represents one such step forward in meeting this challenge and ensuring the integrity and value of testing.
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