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Distributed Learning and Isolated Testing: Tensions in Traditional Assessment Practices
Tim Fawns, Clara O'Shea
University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Assessment, Distributed cognition, Situated learning
Traditional assessment in higher education often measures performance in controlled conditions, isolating students from the people and many of the resources they have interacted with in the process of learning. While a desire to maximise reliability and standardise the measurement of ability is understandable, there is a danger that such practices privilege internal, individual and abstract forms of knowledge at the expense of contextualised, collective and adaptive practices. Most university graduates will need to be effective networked learners, using social and material resources to adapt to changing and complex workplace settings and, increasingly, digital networks. If we accept that assessment is an important driver of learning, then it follows that assessments in which students are able to make use of available resources and networks, may afford a more appropriate preparation for future employment, particularly in light of an increasing need to adapt to technological change.
Full Paper - .pdf
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