Emile will be confronting the problems of assessment with us on Tuesday 2nd May from 5 – 6.30pm at the Humanities Research Institute. Below is the abstract for his talk. More details on the event will follow shortly.
What if instead of attempting to reform assessment so that it more intimately involves the student, we accept, emphasise and promote the superficiality of our assessment processes? The frequent question from students (often ventriloquized by their lecturers) as to whether or not the content under discussion is relevant for their assignments is met with some considerable measure of derision and scorn. The response to this question is normally framed in terms of a disappointment at the students’ lack of interest in ‘real education’ and an expectation that they should want to learn what is being taught because it has an inherent value. Attempts to reform assessment so that it involves the student and thereby overcomes the student’s instrumental relation to examination belie the institutional and social pressures which frame this activity. This paper will present an outline of how a consciously superficial and instrumental approach to assessment can help students to productively ironise their relationship to assessment and the arbitrary exigencies of education and society more generally. This frank (if not ‘honest’) component of a framing context for assessment might then facilitate a more relationally – rather than individually – productive teaching and learning experience. Examples of practical applications of this approach and its theoretical underpinnings will be outlined. Ironising assessment is not a clear solution to the problems elucidated in confronting assessment but it does provide a line of practice and investigation that might be productively traversed.
Emile Bojesen, University of Winchester.