Preston Branch Virtual Seminar

What is assessment for?

Dr. Richard Davies, Centre of Collaborative Learning, UCLan

1pm – 2.30pm

Basil Bernstein argued that Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment are the three drivers of education, in this paper I begin by claiming that, in higher education, assessment has become the main driver. Under the present conditions of credentialism and market mechanisms, academics and students focus on success in assessment tasks. Such a focus obfuscates consideration of the purpose of assessment, and more fundamentally the concepts of mind and knowledge that are its foundations.

In particular, I argue that higher education has failed to grasp the implications of virtue, social and pragmatic conceptions of epistemology. All three approaches critique the more limited, ‘traditional’ conception of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’, often by responding to and overcoming the implications of Gettier problems. The shift to considering the intellectual virtues of the knower; the focus on how one comes, socially, to know and the relationship between propositional expressions of knowledge and other expressions of knowledge all contribute to potentially new approaches to thinking about assessment. These approaches would seem to be of particular value in vocational and professional programmes of study.

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