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Transparent Opacity: Assessment in the inclusive academy

Date: 31 October 2006 Time: 1.00 pm

Literacy Research Discussion Group Seminar Series, Meeting Room 1, Institute for Advanced StudiesTitle: Transparent Opacity: Assessment in the inclusive academySpeaker: Susan Orr, York St John University CollegeAcademic literacies researchers view writing as a situated social practice (see for example, Clark & Ivanič 1997, Lillis 2001). This perspective foregrounds issues of culture, politics, context, power and identity. In this presentation I want to apply an academic literacies gaze on assessment research. My key argument is that academic literacies research has much to offer this field. Focusing on language as meaning-making (as opposed to message carrying) I will explore the disjuncture between written assessment guidelines and students'/staffs' multiple understandings. This leads me to contest the notion of 'transparent' learning outcomes which form a mainstay of current assessment policy and research (e.g. Biggs 2001). I will identify and critique the techno-rationalism inherent in aspects of contemporary assessment and I will counter this with a focus on assessment as a social practice. I will go on to explore the ways that techno-rationalism serves to veil the power relations inherent in the act of assessment.

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Organising departments and research centres: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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