23 SES 01 B, Policies and Practices of Performativity and Assessment (Part 1)
Paper Session to be continued in 23 SES 02 B
Assessment has always been an important subject of Sociology of Education, concerning the selective and reproductive function of education through examinations (Bourdieu & Passeron:1990). Recently, though, it has re-emerged in relation to current imperatives of European and International Policy concerning the pursuit of quality and effectiveness in education (Broadfoot:2007). Within this framework, this presentation focuses on teachers’ practices in students’ assessment. Understanding these practices requires a combined approach of the institutional and organizational framework of education policies in the macro level, but mainly of pedagogical interaction in the micro level, regarding how teachers implement these policies and the extent to which they diverge from them, as actors within the educational system. (Croziers & Friedberg:1980)
Τhis presentation focuses on in-class written examinations as an assessment practice, which teachers of Secondary Education have to implement according to educational legislation. However, the way teachers choose to examine and assess students depends on personal arrangements they develop, exercising all potential autonomy allowed to them by the formal regulatory process. Simply put, according to Greek legislation, teachers are supposed to give students only one written comprehensive examination per subject, in order to evaluate them, considering as well the results of short tests and their overall performance. However, teachers tend to give students more written examinations, which they sanction by attaching a great importance to their results in students’ final assessment.
Consequently, our aim is to understand teachers’ practices by clarifying the institutional and organizational functions of students’ assessment in upper secondary education, as well as the imaginary processes, through which teachers assign meaning to them. Hence, two research questions arise:
- What personal arrangements do teachers develop regarding their assessment practices within the allowances provided by the regulatory process and how do they attempt to rationalize these arrangements?
- What are the social imaginary significations on which they base these rationalizations?
Teachers’ assessment practices are viewed within a theoretical context which recognizes examinations as social constructions (Burger & Luckmann: 1967), which are implemented within the educational system and reflect the way assessment has been institutionalized and functions, as well as an expression of a network of organizational, functional and imaginary processes. Our interest focuses on the fact that written examinations emerge as an important aspect of the educational institution, overcoming their functional aim to just measure students’ performance. Instead, they seem to incorporate a wide variety of social significations (Castoriades: 1975), such as objective judgment and meritocracy, acquisition of knowledge and excellence, integration in social structures and discipline (Foucault: 1975), with which examinations have always been invested upon by the state, society, various interest groups and subjects.
This investment is constantly enriched, as new social significations, which are reflected on sociopolitical intentions, expressed in political discourse and legitimized by educational policies, are added upon older ones, which are hardly abandoned, enhanced by force of habit and the validity of tradition. Τhis way, however, a complex network of significations is created, that are not only incoherent but even contradictory. So, on the one hand, examinations are connected with effectiveness and quality of education and considered as the most reliable means to ensure excellence and prevalence in the Globalized Economy and Knowledge Society, operating within an organizational framework of a competitive school according to the rules of the Market (Maguire:2002), while on the other hand, they are supposed to maintain the traditional model of a humanitarian school, based on the elitist values of meritocracy and objectivity. This ambiguity, imposed on teachers who are required to act as evaluators – among their other roles – creates a general confusion, a “values schizophrenia” (Ball:2006) and makes “social acting” difficult (Tsakiris, 2016).
Ball, S. (2006) Education Policy and Social Class, The selected works of St. Ball, Routlege Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J.-C. (1990) Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture, London, Sage. Broadfoot, P. & Black, P. (2004) Redefining assessment? The first ten years of assessment in education , Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 11:1, 7-26 Brown, G.T.L. (2004) Teachers' conceptions of assessment: implications for policy and professional development, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 11:3, 301-318 Brown, P. & Duru-Bellat, M. (2010/1) «Education-based meritocracy. How markets challenge a model of justice, Vol. 1, p. 161-175. DOI : 10.3917/socio.001.0161 http://www.cairn.info/publications-de-Duru-Bellat-%20Marie--4296.htm Castoriadis, C. (1975) L’institution imaginaire de la société, Paris, Ed. Seuil Crozier, M. & Friedberg, E. (1977) Actors & Systems. The Politics of Collective Action, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press (English translation, Arthur Goldhammer, 1980) Foucault, M. (1975) Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison, Paris, Ed. Gallimard Harris, L.R. & Brown, G.L.T. (2009) The complexity of teachers’ conceptions of assessment: tensions between the needs of schools and students, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 16:3, 365-381 Hargreaves, D. (1975) Interpersonal Relations and Education, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul Hilferty, F. (2008) Theorising teacher professionalism as an enacted discourse of power, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29:2, 161-173 Maguire, M. (2002) Globalisation, education policy and the teacher, International Studies in Sociology of Education, 12:3, 261-276 Τsakiris, D. (2016) La pratique évaluative de l’enseignant en tant que faire social : Esquisse d’une approche de la complexité à partir d’une pratique scolaire, in XXII ème Colloque de l’AFIRSE Portugal 2015 Diversité et complexité de l’évaluation en éducation, Université de Lisbonne – Institut de l’Education (29-31/01/ 2015) p.400-408 Tsakiris, D. (2007) «The evaluation in the education: diversity and complexification to the new requests and situations in the educational practice - Pan-Hellenic Congress of Greek Institute of Applied Pedagogic Education (ΕΛΛ.Ι.Ε.Π.ΕΚ.), Athens, 4-6/05/2007, pp. 372-379 (full text) http://www.elliepek.gr/Documents/4o_Synedrio_Eisigiseis/372_379.pdf Vongalis‐Macrow, A. (2007) I, Teacher: re‐territorialization of teachers’ multi‐faceted agency in globalized education, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 28:4, 425-439 Vanderstraeten, R. (2007): Professions in organizations, professional work in education, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 28:5, 621-635 Van Zanten, A. (2005) New Modes of Reproducing Social Inequality in Education: the changing role of parents, teachers, schools and educational policies, European Educational Research Journal, 4:3, 155-169 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/eerj.2005.4.3.1
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