The WHY of GRASPS assessment design
Wiggins defined authentic assessment as "...Engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field." (1993, qtd. by Jon Mueller).
The main takeaway for me is that teachers can use the GRASPS assessment model to:
- engage students through contextualized learning;
- provide simulations of real-world situations or challenges that adults might encounter;
- create opportunities for students to practice transfer of learning;
- foster curiosity and building experiences of students;
- develop project management skills of students.
The WHAT of GRASPS assessment model
- Goal: establish the challenge, issue or problem to solve;
- Role: give students a role that they might be taking in a familiar real-life situation;
- Audience: identify the target audience whom students are solving the problem for or creating the product for;
- Situation: create the scenario or explain the context of the situation;
- Product/Performance and Purpose: paint a clear picture of the WHAT and WHY of the product creation or the performance;
- Standards & Criteria for Success: inform students how their work will be assessed by the assumed audience.
Is the GRASPS assessment model misunderstood?
An example might be:
- Goal: Your goal is to write a short story.
- Role: You are a middle school student.
- Audience: Your target audience is your teacher, and students and parents in our school community.
- Situation: You have been asked by your school community to write a short story. (This section is sometimes omitted by teachers as a clear situation is not identified.)
- Product/Performance and Purpose: write a 800 word short story to entertain others.
- Standards & Criteria for Success: You will be assessed against criteria B, C and D.
It might look good at first by framing the assessment through GRASPS model, but it's like déjà vu all over again. It is definitely a step-up when teachers begin to use this model when creating a summative assessment task. However, this is still very much like a traditional assessment task. First of all, the range of the target audience is too big. The way an author writes to entertain young children, teens, or adults is very different. The situation described above is unlikely to happen as it is vague and more details are needed.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is that MYP teachers often inform students that they will be assessed against criteria B, C, and D. But what do criteria B, C and D mean? If we want students to organise, produce text, and use language (MYP Language and Literature criteria BCD), wouldn't it be more effective for teachers clearly specify the criteria and engage students in understanding the assessment objectives and strands? We can't expect students to develop assessment capabilities without explicitly involving them in developing assessment literacy.
Develop student metacognition through GRASPS
Refocus GRASPS implementation
As mentioned previously, teachers do not always set up a clear situation for the assessment task. In the MYP framework, when illustrating the situation or creating the scenario for the task, teachers can refer back to the MYP global context exploration predetermined. It is also through the careful design of the scenario or situation, students can be challenged to think about intercultural communication and thus develop international-mindedness.
- Mueller, Jon. “What Is Authentic Assessment?” Authentic Assessment Toolbox, jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/whatisit.htm#definitions.
- Spencer, John. “Five Structures for Helping Students Learn Project Management.” John Spencer, 20 Aug. 2019, www.spencerauthor.com/project-management/.
- Quigley , Alex, et al. “Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning.” Education Endowment Foundation, (Education Endowment Foundation), 27 Apr. 2018, educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/tools/guidance-reports/metacognition-and-self-regulated-learning/.