Assessments and cultural scripts
People who work with assessments face new challenges in light of sociocultural theory.
- Assessment: associated cultural scripts
- Sociocultural theories and:
- Formative assessment
- 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 and all that implies
Psychometrics (the field of psychologic measurement):
- Analysis is individual
- Knowledge is transferred and received unchanged, so what is learned and known is common across learners
- Tests are in isolation from the teacher and others
- Tests verify learning — what students can do independently
- Human agency; knowledge is co-constructed. Learners solve emergent problems, and in this engagement, learning occurs through reflection on the consequences of those actions
- Learning is a fit of new knowledge with existing knowledge; an organization of knowledge
- Testing makes sure students learned. Learning may be seen as social activity, but it is stored in the individual
Sociocultural theories and assessments:
- Recognizes that collective and individual knowledge are different, and do different kinds of work
- Is concerned about reification of summative assessments — practices and outcomes
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.