The rationality of judgement: comparative perspectives on the social role of educational assessment

Broadfoot, Patricia Mary (1984). The rationality of judgement: comparative perspectives on the social role of educational assessment. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000de49

Abstract

The subject of this thesis is the origins and implications of the elaborate apparatus of assessment procedures which characterises educational provision in advanced industrial societies. The analysis is divided into two parts.

Part I which is entitled 'Sociological Perspectives' is concerned with establishing the conceptual framework for such a study. An initial review of the literature, which delineates both the need for and the scope of such an analysis, is followed by a review which draws on comparative data to identify the major functions of educational assessment and the way in which such functions may change their form, but not their essential purpose, in response to changing social conditions. Having identified these functions as the attestation of competence, the regulation of competition and the control of both curriculum content and educational practice, subsequent chapters in Part I examine firstly-. the way in which the characteristics of industrial society give rise to the need for such educational assessment and condition its form, and secondly, how these forms and functions differ in relation to the idiosyncratic social context of different societies.

Part II of the thesis comprises case studies of two national education systems - France and England. - in which the conceptual frameworks developed in Part I are applied in some detail to two very different social contexts. Each case study offers a brief historical review of the role educational assessment procedures have played in the emergence of the characteristic features of educational provision in the two countries studied and examines their contemporary role in terms of both the individual pupil and the system as a whole. ' A final, concluding chapter discusses some of the common trends which may be identified in both countries at the present time and attempts to assess their importance for the future role that education might play in such societies".

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