Supporting Learning to Make a Social Difference

Assessment is ubiquitous, we assess almost every moment of our daily lives to make decisions about our activities and, in the educational context, our work and our understandings. Understanding assessment theories and practices, particularly inclusive, learner-centered practices explicitly, is an efficient means of empowering and enabling the next generation to have the courage to challenge injustices in all levels and contexts of life. Shared explicit, transparent assessment processes can and should be put into practice in order to support learning and make a socially equitable difference. Assessment theories are varied and uncoordinated and pose a challenge to unravel. This paper analyses and evaluates different theoretical positions in international Anglophone research in order to ascertain how best practice can be supported for learner-inclusive assessment. The evaluation of assessment theories demonstrates that the main definitions of assessment (including summative and formative assessment) are viewed from two different perspectives: one base these on the processes of assessment while the other on functions of assessment. How these assessment theories may be reconciled is also examined. In practice, these differences tend to be reflected in explicit procedures when definitions are linked to processes, and to implicit procedures when definitions are based on functions of assessment. These different assessment perspectives result in very different consequences for the roles and responsibilities of students and tutors, and how learning may be viewed and supported. Clarifying assessment issues has a huge impact on both learning and teaching practices, and ultimately, on how society envisages justice.

Assessment, Theories, Summative, Formative, Self-assessment, Processes, Functions, Learning, Learner-centred

Assessment and Evaluation

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session