Learning Autonomy in Post-16 Education: The Politics and Practice of Formative Assessment

Learning Autonomy in Post-16 Education: The Politics and Practice of Formative Assessment

Learning Autonomy in Post-16 Education: The Politics and Practice of Formative Assessment

Learning Autonomy in Post-16 Education: The Politics and Practice of Formative Assessment

Synopsis

This book makes an important contribution to understanding the political, social and educational impact of assessment. Using a multi-layered approach, it offers a fascinating case study of how post-16 assessment systems are designed and debated inside policy making processes. This case study highlights the broader tensions at the heart of assessment policy. The book also explores the complex factors that affect how teachers and students use formative assessment to achieve higher standards of educational attainment and more autonomous learning. Learning Autonomy in Post-16 Education is a comprehensive and authoritative account of policy and practice in post-16 assessment. The book weaves together new theoretical frameworks with evidence from empirical research to offer a detailed picture of the diverse factors affecting the quality of formative assessment in further education. The book will be of particular interest to teachers and practitioners across the post-16 sector on postgraduate and in-service professional development courses. It will also be of interest to researchers, inspectors and qualification designers.

Excerpt

Political demands for strategies to motivate more people for lifelong learning come at a time when profound doubts about globalisation and technological progress foster discourses of 'crisis', 'social polarisation' and 'social transformation' in education policy throughout Europe and in New Zealand, the United States and Australia. in particular, growing concern about 'a risk society' encourages new definitions and regulation of social, economic and personal 'risk' that require new social and political responses. These movements reflect a profound loss of confidence in Enlightenment ideas of rational 'truth', scientific and social progress and technological innovation (Beck, 1992) alongside increasing scepticism about both the possibility and desirability of education as a key to scientifically progressive and humane knowledge for the 'good of all'.

Concerns about the future sanction new forms of political intervention and patterns of influence in education structures, curriculum content and assessment systems. These aim to secure pedagogic and institutional change alongside broader adherence to new national, transnational and economic structures, across the European Union (see Field, 2000; Brine, 1995; Sultana, 1995). in the uk, powerful rhetorics of empowerment, motivation and access to useful qualifications accompany political intervention in the scope and format of assessment systems. There is a growing homogeneity in assessment models, accompanying rhetoric and forms of political intervention in the National Curriculum, post-14 vocational and general curricula, work-based training, parts of adult and community education and higher education. in part, this responds to what Habermas has portrayed as a 'crisis of legitimation' in advanced capitalist societies. Following this analysis, Andy Hargreaves argues that assessment systems are a crucial mechanism for securing social consent amongst young people who are no longer guaranteed jobs in return for compliance in education. Assessment

* Parts of this chapter are reproduced with permission from Blackwell Science (see Ecclestone, 1999).

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