13 SES 04 B, Choice, Evaluative Judgments, and Algorithmic Architecture
Evaluative judgement, or appraising the quality of work done by oneself and others, is receiving attention in literature on assessment for learning (e.g., Boud et al, in press; Sadler, 2010). However, it also has broader applicability and relevance for pedagogy and continuing professional learning. Developing a capability for evaluative judgement is crucial not only for enabling students to enhance their performance on course-related assessments or tasks, but also how they are learning to be for the world beyond educational institutions (see also Boud and Soler, 2016; Nguyen and Walker, 2016).
In promoting evaluative judgement, Royce Sadler (1989, 2010) emphasises providing students with experience of appraising the quality of a range of performances or work produced. The aim of this experiential activity is to “induct students into sufficient explicit and tacit knowledge of the kind that would enable them to recognise or judge quality when they see it and also explain their judgements” (Sadler, 2010, p. 542).
While experiential activity is valuable when learning to appraise quality, the experiential basis of evaluative judgement is integral to its very development. This is because appraising quality is not an isolated event, but is contextualised within an extended process of developing skilfulness in a field of expertise (Sadler 1989). Evaluative judgement develops through learning what constitutes quality of a performance or work produced within the practice or field in question. The performance or work produced is broadly conceived here, so it may or may not be intended for formal assessment purposes. For instance, it may comprise an argument a student poses during a regular online discussion, blog post, seminar or laboratory class.
More particularly, not only is evaluative judgement contextualised within developing capacity to engage in the practice or field, but it is reliant upon this emergent capacity. In other words, promoting evaluative judgement for enhancing performance relies upon learning to enact the practice in question. As Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1962/1945) points out, the understanding we develop is based upon embodied experience of being embedded within, and directed toward, the world we inhabit. This includes our engagement in practice worlds, such as the world of music, biology or medicine. As we learn bodily perceptions, sensations and movement that enable us to engage in particular practice worlds, these settle into habits over time, providing resources for participating in practice in increasingly sophisticated ways.
Embodied experience is made possible through this entwinement with others and things as we engage in, and across, practice worlds (see Dall’Alba, 2009, for elaboration). Due to our entwinement with others and things, evaluative judgement can be informed by our interactions with others and also by the manner in which things in the world ‘speak back,’ such as when we destroy equipment through misuse or employ resources in sustainable ways. Evaluative judgement takes on meaning and significance within the context of this embodied experience in sociomaterial worlds. For example, physics students’ efforts to make decisions about quality in their simulations of how galaxies form are meaningful in the context of human beings’ endeavours to understand our place in the larger universe.
Coming to an informed judgement about quality – or developing a ‘feel’ for what constitutes quality in a field – is, therefore, reliant on embodied experience of the practice in question. For Merleau-Ponty, “bodily actions or habits make thinking possible in the first place. And so the body and its habitual actions constitute forms of knowledge in themselves about how to be particular kinds of human beings in particular social settings” (Scully 2012, 144). This means that when we enact what we know, we embody ways of being in the world.
Joanna Tai and colleagues (in press), take evaluative judgement to mean "the capability to make decisions about the quality of work of self and others." This decision making typically occurs in relation to standards that may be implicit or explicit. While judging quality may be self-evaluative and based on appraisals by others, the two forms are not entirely independent, given evaluative judgement is meaningful with reference to the practice or field of expertise within which it is embedded. So, although the term, evaluative judgement, may imply coming to a (final) judgement, enhancing the process of learning to form judgements about quality in the present and for life beyond formal education is also of particular interest in educational settings (Dall'Alba, in press). Moreover, learning to form evaluative judgement is essential to inclusion within a field or practice world. In this paper, I outline features of developing evaluative judgement that hinge upon the embeddedness of this judgement within the practice to which it relates. These features are: learning to embody the practice in question, including the use of tools and instruments (drawing on Merleau-Ponty's notion of the 'lived body'); integrating epistemological with ontological dimensions of learning (from Dall'Alba, 2009); and the multiplicity of practice (Dall'Alba, 2009; Mol, 2002) in a personal-social process of learning to form evaluative judgements.
This paper highlights the importance of evaluative judgement for learning to be in the present and the world beyond educational institutions. Through drawing on Merleau-Ponty's philosophical ideas, it extends current theorising on evaluative judgement beyond assessment for learning. In so doing, it employs Merleau-Ponty's notion of the lived body and subsequent work of others in novel ways that have relevance for pedagogy and continuing professional learning.
Dall'Alba, G. (2009). Learning to be professionals. Dordrecht: Springer. Dall'Alba, G. (in press). EvaIuative judgement for learning to be in a digital world. In D. Boud, R. Ajjawi, P. Dawson & J. Tai (Eds.) (in press), Developing evaluative judgement: Assessment for knowing and producing quality work. Abingdon: Routledge. Boud, D., Ajjawi, R., Dawson, P., & Tai, J. (Eds.) (in press), Developing evaluative judgement: Assessment for knowing and producing quality work. Abingdon: Routledge. Boud, D., & R. Soler. (2016). Sustainable assessment revisited. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 41 (3): 400-413. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962/1945). Phenomenology of perception (C. Smith, Trans.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Mol, A. (2002). The body multiple: Ontology in medical practice. Durham: Duke University Press. Nguyen, T.T.H., & Walker, M. (2016). Sustainable assessment for lifelong learning. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 41(1), 97-111. Sadler, D. R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science, 18(2): 119-144. Sadler, D.R. (2010). Beyond feedback: Developing student capability in complex appraisal. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(5), 535-550. Scully, J. L. (2012). Disability and the thinking body. In S. Gonzalez Arnal, G. Jagger, & K. Lennon, (Eds.), Embodied selves (pp. 139-159). Basingstoke, Hampshire & New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Tai, J., Ajjawi, R., Boud, D., Dawson, P., & Panadero, E. (in press). Developing evaluative judgement: Enabling students to make decisions about the quality of work. Higher Education.
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