The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

This section includes an example assessment item where the defining characteristic is its authenticity. The real-world problem at the heart of the question is brought to life through the integration of links to the World Wide Web and streaming media that serve to enhance engagement with the student.

Another key element is the inclusion of very specific instructions relating to the preparation and submission of the assessment items, which make it very difficult for a student to get someone else to do the work for them. Insisting that the work is submitted electronically in order to make use of plagiarism detection software is a deterrent. More importantly, however, there is little point in a student getting a friend or relative to write an answer for them if it is a condition that a student's answer makes direct references to module-specific materials. The student's accomplice would first have to become immersed in the subject materials - something that would be made doubly difficult if the time period allowed to complete the task were sufficiently tight.

In an economics module (of all modules), it is particularly important to devise assessment tasks that require application of empirical and theoretical knowledge to elements of professional practice. If assessment items are thoroughly grounded in authentic contexts, students have an excellent opportunity to apply their newly constructed knowledge in a meaningful way. In summary, these examples attempt to engage students rather than alienate them. The opportunity for academically dishonest practice is less, but so is the temptation to resort to this kind of behaviour in the first place. Students will have a greater empathy for the task that lies before them if they can see the point of it and if it is explicitly related to their course of study.