Authentic Assessment

In both SCE and modeling theory, the traditional view is rejected that holds that assessment is an end by itself in education. Authentic assessment is called for instead that integrates assessment with learning and instruction so as to help students develop meaningful learning of course materials, and develop 4P profiles. Learning and instruction would then rely on a variety of authentic assessment tasks that allow assessment “of” learning, “for” learning, and “as” learning.

  1. Authentic assessment “of” learning is meant to reliably ascertain, in the context of a given system or set of systems (scientific models included), the extent to which individual students have:
    1. achieved particular learning outcomes and met the expectations set in a target profile at specific points of instruction;
    2. adequately followed anticipated progress or evolution paths throughout the course of instruction.
  2. Authentic assessments “for” learning is meant to:
    1. allow students explicitly develop their metacognitive controls and insightfully regulate their own profiles;
    2. allow teachers track and regulate the evolution of individual students’ profiles along the desired paths in efficient and meaningful ways;
    3. evaluate and efficiently regulate instructional means and practices, and the entire learning ecology;
    4. contribute to the refinement/reform of the curriculum and the entire educational system.
  3. Authentic assessment “as” learning considers every assessment task a learning task whereby learners do not simply retrieve ascertained content and process knowledge from memory and deploy it exactly as it used to be stored in memory, but they actually regulate and change retrieved knowledge in the process of adapting it to the task at hand.


Prof. Halloun’s work on assessment began with his Mechanics Diagnostic Test (AJP, 1985), which evolved into the Force Concept Inventory, and subsequently into the Inventory of Basic Conceptions in Mechanics. The latter test is now part of an IBC battery of instruments complemented with the battery of the Views About Science / Mathematics Surveys (VASS/VAMS). IBCs are multiple-choice tests, and VASS/VAMS are designed following Halloun’s Contrasting Alternatives rating scale (CArs).


While working on IAB, Prof. Halloun conceived an electronic assessment platform in the framework of PSE that housed thousands of items for various fields in grades 10-12.


In addition to classroom assessment, Prof. Halloun is also interested in ascertaining the general public understanding of science so as to help policymakers make informed decisions about programs and curricula that bring about scientifically literate populations.



Select Publications:


Upholding our conventional exit exams is a crime against students and society. (April 2016). and LinkedIn

التمسّك بالامتحانات الرسميّة التقليديّة جريمة بحقّ الطلبة والمجتمع . نيسان 2016

The Lebanese Brevet and Baccalaureate exams (as they are still commonly known) have been around for quite awhile that most people are taking them for granted. Very little research has been undertaken to ascertain the viability (validity, reliability, efficiency, etc.) of these national exit exams and their repercussions on students, teachers, and other stakeholders in the educational community and on the nation at large. However, what is sometimes revealed about these exams and research from around the globe about similar high stakes exit exams provide some indication as to how flawed they are and how grave their repercussions are on various stakeholders.

Download full text in:    English         عربي


Time to abolish high stakes exit exams as we know them. Naharnet, 30 March 2016.

High stakes exams have been around for quite awhile that most concerned people are taking them for granted. These exams come in a variety of forms and scales, and serve diverse purposes like end of program certification, entrance to particular university programs, or induction into certain professions. Research from around the globe shows that high stakes exams have critical viability flaws (validity, reliability, efficiency, etc.) and grave repercussions on students, teachers, and all other stakeholders in the educational community and concerned professional communities.  Full Text


Authentic assessment for and as meaningful learning in IAB. (February 2013. Plenary paper). International Exhibition and Forum in Education. Riyadh, KSA.  PowerPoint Presentation


Taxonomy and learning outcomes. (March 2012. Plenary paper). Proceedings of ACES conference on Education. Dubai, UAE: ACES.

Under PSE, the 4P profile is reified in various educational fields following well-defined cognitive tenets and pedagogical principles and rules. The profile can be translated in any given curriculum in the form of epistemic, cognitive, behavioral and metacognitive learning outcomes in accordance with a novel taxonomy developed by this author. The taxonomy is currently being revised under SCE.

Download full text in:      English        Français         عربي


Cognitive development and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). (May-June 2010). UNICEF Workshop. Muscat, Oman.   PowerPoint Presentation


Authentic Assessment Framework: A Quick Reference. (2008). Beirut: Phoenix series / Educational Research Center.

This document, now superseded by work on SCE, was drafted in 2008 to provide a quick reference to teachers with limited background in authentic assessment. The document came in four sections followed by an appendix on epistemological foundations of science education. The first two sections concisely discussed the role of assessment in curriculum development and implementation, and then more specifically in instructional design and practice. The third section outlined an authentic assessment framework illustrated in the fourth section with examples from science.

Download full text in:       English         عربي


The Lebanese Secondary School Physics Curriculum and Students’ Conceptual Profiles. (2007). Beirut: Phoenix series / Lebanese University.

Lebanese secondary school students’ conceptual profiles in physics are evaluated by comparison to their U.S. peers, in an attempt to ascertain the effectiveness of the Lebanese physics curriculum currently in place. A battery of three instruments were developed and validated to assess student profiles in particular areas of physics. The three instruments were administered to over three thousand Lebanese and U.S. students between 2004 and 2007. Results show that Lebanese students: (a) enter secondary school encumbered with naive conceptual profiles that are at odds with scientific paradigm, (b) fail, after physics instruction, to enhance their profiles and develop them to the level aspired for in the official curriculum, and (c) lag, in most conceptual respects, behind their U.S. peers.   Full Text



Inventories of Basic Conceptions

The Inventories of Basic Conceptions (IBC) are part of a battery of instruments developed, for a variety of fields in science and mathematics, to ascertain to what extent grades 8-16 students actually develop meaningful rather than rote learning of course materials. A synopsis of IBC can be downloaded below, along with the taxonomy of validated Inventories in physics. These Inventories are available upon request to interested teachers and concerned educators.

Inventories of Basic Conceptions (IBC).   Synopsis 

IBC-Mechanics.   Synopsis    Taxonomy

IBC-DC circuits.   Taxonomy

IBC-General Physics.   Taxonomy

 To receive a complimentary copy of any Inventory, please fill out the request form at the bottom of this page. 



Inventories of Basic Conceptions. (August 2005). Paper presented at the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Salt Lake City, UT.  Synopsis


The search for conceptual coherence in FCI data. [D. Hestenes, co-author]. (1995). Working paper.

A follow up response to concerns raised about the interpretation of FCI data.  Full Text


Interpreting the Force Concept Inventory. [co-author with D. Hestenes]. (1995). The Physics Teacher, 33(8), 502-506.

A response to concerns raised about the validity and interpretation of FCI.   Full Text


Connaissances d’élèves du secondaire sur la charge électrique. [M.M. Assy, co-author]. (1989). Lebanese Journal of Science & Mathematics Education, 2(1), 8-11.

Un test de diagnostic a révélé que les connaissances des élèves portant sur la nature de la charge électrique et de l’interaction électrostatique ne sont pas satisfaisantes, et que ces connaissances n’évoluent pas significativement au cours du cycle secondaire.   Texte Intégral


Compétence en mathématiques des étudiants de physique. (1988). Lebanese Journal of Science & Mathematics Education, 1(2), 21-23.

Une enquête menée avec des étudiants universitaires inscrits à un cours de physique élémentaire a montré que ces apprenants n’ont pas la formation nécessaire en mathématiques en vue d’apprendre les théories fondamentales de la physique et de les mettre en pratique. L’efficacité des cours traditionnels de physique est alors mise en cause.  Texte Intégral


Le réalisme naif et l’apprentissage de la physique. (1986). Recherches Pédagogiques, 17, 23-47.

Le Test de Diagnostic de Mécanique a révélé que des étudiants universitaires ont des connaissances naïves à propos du mouvement d’objets réels, et que ces connaissances n’évoluent pas significativement au cours de l’enseignement universitaire de physique.   Texte Intégral


The initial knowledge state of college physics students. [D. Hestenes, co-author]. (1985). American Journal of Physics, 53, 1043-1055.

The Mechanics Diagnostic Test (MDT) has been designed and validated to ascertain student conceptual understanding of basic conceptions in Newtonian mechanics. MDT revealed that college students are encumbered with common sense beliefs about motion that significantly affect their performance in physics, and that conventional instruction induces minor changes in those beliefs.   Full Text


Common sense concepts about motion. [D. Hestenes, co-author]. (1985). American Journal of Physics, 53, 1056-1065.

Common sense beliefs of college students about motion are discussed and analyzed in relation to Aristotelian and Impetus physics. A taxonomy of common sense conceptions which conflict with Newtonian theory is developed as a guide to instruction.   Full Text


The last two articles are Most Memorable Articles of the American Journal of Physics (AJP, 1993, 61, 103-105).


Views About Science / Mathematics Surveys

Views About Science Surveys (VASS) and the Views About Mathematics Survey (VAMS) are developed to ascertain grades 8-16 students views about knowing and learning science or mathematics. Their items follow the Contrasting Alternatives rating scale (CArs) developed by Prof. Halloun. Synopses of CArs and VASS/VAMS can be downloaded below, along with the common taxonomy of validated Surveys. These Surveys are available upon request to interested teachers and concerned educators.

Contrasting Alternatives: An alternative rating scale.   Synopsis

Views About Science / Mathematics Surveys (VASS / VAMS).   Synopsis   Taxonomy

VASS – Physics.   Taxonomy

VASS – Chemistry.   Taxonomy

VASS – Biology.   Taxonomy

VASS – Geology.   Taxonomy

VASS – General Science.   Taxonomy

VAMS – Mathematics.   Taxonomy

To receive a complimentary copy of any Survey, please fill out the request form at the bottom of this page. 




Student Views about Science: A comparative Survey. (2001). Beirut, Lebanon: Phoenix series / Lebanese University.

Lebanese students’ views about knowing and learning science are surveyed and correlated with course achievement and teaching practice. The Views about Sciences Survey (VASS) was revised to this end, and administered to over two thousand Lebanese students enrolled in physics courses of different levels. The revised survey includes items devised following the Contrasting Alternatives rating scale (Cars, then called CAD). By comparison to traditional assessment formats like open-ended, multiple choice and other rating scales, CArs is significantly more reliable for assessing VASS type of views. Data show that Lebanese students share with their international peers, particularly those in USA, common distorted views about science, and that these views correlate significantly with course achievement. Student views are not affected by traditional teaching practices, irrespective of how explicitly teachers might explain the nature of science or spell out specific guidelines for studying physics in conventional settings.   Full Text       


Interpreting VASS dimensions and profiles. [D. Hestenes, co-author]. (1998). Science & Education, 7(6), 553-577.

Student views about knowing and learning physics have been probed with the Views About Sciences Survey (VASS) along six conceptual dimensions, and classified into four distinct profiles: expert, high transitional, low transitional, and folk. As an aid to interpreting VASS results, this article provides a qualitative analysis of student responses to items within each of the six dimensions and a quantitative analysis of their relation to students’ profiles. Student profiles correlate significantly with physics achievement. Indeed, they may be major determinants of what students learn in physics courses.   Full Text


Assessing college students’ views about mathematics with the Views About Mathematics Survey. (1998). Working paper co-authored with M. Carlson & T. Buskirk.

The mathematical views of two samples of university students are ascertained with the Views About Mathematics Survey (VAMS). VAMS is an instrument for assessing and characterizing student views about knowing and learning mathematics. It was administered to approximately 600 pre-calculus and third semester calculus students. Student views are described and compared across course, gender and course grade.   Full Text


Views about science and physics achievement. The VASS story. (1997). In E. F. Redish & J. S. Rigden (Eds), The Changing Role of Physics Departments in Modern Universities. Proceedings of ICUPE. 605-614. College Park, Maryland: American Institute of Physics Press.

The Views About Sciences Survey (VASS) is a paper-and-pencil instrument to characterize student views about knowing and learning science and assess the relation of these views to achievement in science courses. VASS shows that: (a) high school and college students have views about physics that often diverge from physicists’ views, (b) student views can be grouped into four distinct profiles: expert, high transitional, low transitional, and folk, (c) profile distributions are similar in college and high school, and (d) student profiles correlate significantly with physics achievement.   Full Text


Lebanese Public Understanding of Science. (1993). Jounieh, Lebanon: CREST.   Cover


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