Grading, classifying and future learning

Knight, Peter (2007). Grading, classifying and future learning. In: Boud, David and Falchikov, Nancy eds. Rethinking assessment in Higher Education : learning for the longer term. UK: Routledge, pp. 72–86.



Other contributors to this book commend learning-oriented or formative assessment, which is intended to generate information about the task (feedback) and about ways of improving performance on similar tasks in the future (feedforward). Attention also needs to be paid to the practice of ‘warranting’ or summative assessment. I use ‘warranting’ to cover all the high-stakes processes of producing grade point averages, classifications and awards. Awards are often licenses to practice, although that is just one manifestation of warrants of achievement. Even less attention has been given to the relationship between warranting and future learning, which is the topic of this chapter.
In the first half of the chapter I argue that warranting, as currently practised, is deeply flawed and not conducive to future learning. In the second half I recognise that it is a set of widely embedded social practices that will, in some form, survive. I suggest an approach to warranting achievement that is educationally fertile and sustainable. I begin with a view of the distinctive business of higher education.

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