Evaluation via Authentic Audience

Evaluation can take many forms.  Selection of the appropriate evaluation tool can be a daunting task for any teacher.  Finding alternative assessments can help enrich the learning experience for the student and provide a fresh perspective for the teacher.  A deeper discussion of evaluation instruments from a 360 degree teaching perspective will follow as we progress through the year, but for this post, I want to showcase evaluation via authentic audience.

BUSINESS SIMULATION (example for using authentic audience assessment)

In my Career and Financial Management class, my students completed a business simulation in which they ran a student developed company and each student was hired to departments including Research and Development, Finance, Marketing, and Leadership.


Research and Development presents their prototype

For the simulation, the culminating activity was to present a request for proposal, Shark Tank style, to a panel of investors.  The “investors” included business leaders, administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers.  In total, we had 7 investors visit the classroom to listen to the students pitch their product.

How did we get the investors to come to class?  I sent my Public Relations Executives from our Marketing Department out dressed in suits to personally invite members of our school community to evaluate our class as investors.  Every professional the students asked said yes!


Public Relations on the beat to get investors…how can anyone say no?


 A rating scale with comments was selected by the teacher  to evaluate each department.  The scale had 5 levels.  Level 5 = Yes I would invest and the scale graduates down to level 1= investment would not be considered.  I decided to use this form of assessment for investors in an effort to create a transparent and seamless process for them as they were evaluating in a formative fashion with instant results to provide to students.


THE INVESTORS (authentic audience)

We had 2 vice principals, 1 teacher, 2 guidance counselors, 1 business representative (from Microsoft), and 1 district administrator, the Superintendent of Financial Services. Feedback from a diverse authentic audience such as this is a powerful tool that will not only provide evaluation, but a lasting impression on students.  When members of the school and business community participate in the evaluation process, students gain a sense of validity to their learning process side by side within their community. Suddenly,  partnerships are being developed and professional relationships are initiated. Confidence and self actualization development is palpable during the process.  Students often say “the Superintendent is coming to see me?”  “The business person is going to take time out of his day to evaluate me?”  The answer is yes and they want to!  We all want to help students grow.  Students feel honored and truly enjoy the experience of being evaluated by someone outside of the classroom teacher.


Department by department, students came to the front of the room and pitched their section of the RFP to the investors (see youtube).  This process was both intimidating and exciting for students.  They gained confidence and had each others backs during the entire pitch.  I was amazed as students would chime in to answer a question from investors to help the students on the classroom “stage.”


The company president and his leadership team present goals of the company


My last advice to the class before pitch day was to “fake it until you make it” if all else fails.  I reminded my budding entrepreneurs that they had command of their content and that this final assessment by outsiders would be valuable feedback for them regarding their future- whether it’s interviewing in front of a panel or completing an impromptu presentation in a sales meeting.  They will be ready for anything the 21st century competitive marketplace has to throw at them.  These students were on FIRE and I am very proud.


The class moved the room to stadium seating style and presented department by department…pride in their work!


Evaluation from a 360 degree view means thinking alternatively about assessment, including having the outside help you, the teacher evaluate performance based activities and projects.


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