Assessments and cultural scripts

People who work with assessments face new challenges in light of sociocultural theory.

Elwood, J., and Murphy, P. (2015) ‘Assessment systems as cultural scripts: a sociocultural theoretical lens on assessment practice and products’, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 182-192 [Online]. DOI: 10.1080/0969594X.2015.1021568.


  1. Background
  2. Assessment: associated cultural scripts
  3. Sociocultural theories and:
    1. Formative assessment
    2. Summative assessment


Research shows that students’ learning is improved with formative assessment, so there is a lot of debate around that, but still the debate/discussions see assessment as separate from the learner, and see learners as autonomous entities. There are cultural beliefs — scripts — about what assessments are and what they are for, and this affects the discussion.

Summative and even formative assessments are shaped by broader policies. These frameworks reify what is educational achievement, success, educational purposes, and schooling. Within the field of assessments, 2 cultural scripts have dominated:

Psychometrics (the field of psychologic measurement):


Sociocultural theories and assessments:

See also

Roth, W. M., and Radford, L. (2011). A cultural-historical perspective on mathematics teaching and learning. Rotterdam: Sense.

Sellar, S., and Lingard, B. (2013). The OECD and global governance in education. Journal of Education Policy, 28, 710–725.

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