A Critical Realist Approach to Pupil Assessment

Global Challenges and Dilemmas

By Stephen Dobson, Erling Lars Dale

© 2013 – Routledge

300 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415695510
pub: 2016-01-10
e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

In an increasingly more global society there are several arguments for looking at international and not the least national trends in pupil assessment. Firstly, there has been increasing attention about comparable levels of national performance in PISA tests. Secondly, looking at the experiences of other countries gives an indication of experiences, both positive and negative with new forms of assessment.

How should international trends in pupil assessment be conceptualised, if the desire is to avoid for the moment the temptation of looking for national and historical peculiarities, that might potentially upset the validity of and dominance of such trends?

Despite the strength of the assumption that assessment can be a form of positivist measurement, this book will explore if and how such forms of assessment might actually test critical thinking. This is a distinctly human attribute with the potential of transcending the view that psychometric testing is only suitable for the testing of motor skills.

It can be noted that even though there is no single once and for all list of international trends that exert a dominant influence upon assessment practices in different countries, there are certain debates and challenges faced by policy makers and assessment practitioners alike:

  • selection vs. certification
  • applying assessment criteria vs. holistic judgments
  • technologically mediated assessment vs. non-technology mediated face-to-face assessment
  • assessment for, of and as assessment
  • assessment principles vs. a more pragmatic approach to assessment practices

As we have suggested in the desire to be more accurate the pursuit of different forms of assessment risk searching for the pupil’s knowledge, skills and attitudes as if they were in some way intransitives

Table of Contents

Introduction: critical realism and pupil assessment, 1: Assessment in new forms of society: new and persistent demands, 2: (Inter)national tests, accountability and critical realism, 3: Critical realist theory and assessment for learning, 4: The temptation and pitfalls of taxonomy and grading, 5: Assessment, critical realism and connoisseurship, 6. Dilemmas and challenges in vocational assessment, 7: Motivation and assessment, Chapter 8. Assessment and critical realism – a theoretical, policy, practice-based synthesis.

About the Authors

Stephen Dobson (1963) has worked with refugees for 13 years and is currently professor in education at Hedmark University College, Norway. He is also visiting professor at Lillehammer University College, Norway. His most recent publications in the field of assessment are Assessment for Learning in Subjects (published in Norwegian 2010 with Roar Engh), Assessment, Principles and Practice (published in Norwegian, 2009), Assessment for Learning (published in Norwegian with Roar Engh and Eli-Kari Høihilder, 2007). He has also published The School and Socio-cultural Background of Pupils (an edited collection in Norwegian with Thomas Nordahl, 2009), Cultures of Exile and the Experience of Refugeeness (2004, Bern: Peter Lang), The Urban Pedagogy of Walter Benjamin. Lessons for the 21st Century (2002), The Pedagogy of Ressentiment (1995). Forthcoming: Studying the City. Methodologies, Experience and Politics (Palgrave Macmillan). Dobson is joint leader of the Norwegian national network for pupil assessment, funded by the Norwegian Directorate of Education and training.

Erling Lars Dale (1946) is the author of more than 30 books in Norwegian. At a young age he gave rise to a lot of debate with his first book published in Norwegian: Education and Social Change (1972). His research interests span educational theory (published in Norwegian, The Tree of Knowledge and the Beauty of Art, 1990), the history of Norwegian education (The Strategic Educationalists: Education as Scientific Knowledge, 1999), special needs with Educational Diversity (in Norwegian with Jarl Inge Wærness, 2003). Most recently he has published a number of works connecting the themes of curriculum, pupil assessment and school reform, including Assessment and Learning in a Pupil Active School (with Jarl inge Wærness, 2006) and a two volume work on comprehensive schools and the reproduction of social inequality (2008). He has just been published is entitled, Kunnskapsløftet. På vei mot felles kvalitetsansvar? (The Knowledge Reform Policy. The Journey Towards Joint Responsibility, 2010).

About the Series

New Studies in Critical Realism and Education (Routledge Critical Realism)

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General