Alternative assessment for learner engagement in a climate of performativity: lessons from an English case study

James, D. and Simmons, J. (2007) Alternative assessment for learner engagement in a climate of performativity: lessons from an English case study. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 14 (3). pp. 353-371. ISSN 0260-2938 Available from:

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In many education systems, young peoples’ ‘disaffection’ is increasingly equated with nonparticipation in education, training and employment. There is also an expectation that educational activity can provide a key response to this situation. Drawing upon a case study of a successful development project based in Bristol, England which utilized an ‘alternative’ assessment regime in raising the participation and attainments of young people defined as disengaged from schooling, the paper considers a series of key issues. These include: the nature of the provision; the difficulties of understanding and evaluating it in a climate of performativity; a distinctive concept of learning promoted by the assessment practices; and the role of individual and networked professional mediation in creating the ‘space’ for the initiative. The paper concludes that the case study project represents a ‘marriage of convenience’ between the expectations of a culture of performativity and, on the other hand, a horizontal community of practice which provides a strong professional framework for action, and that there are implications for both practice and policy.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This article was an invited contribution to a special issue of the journal. It draws upon the author's evaluation of a Learning and Skills Council initiative which made use of QCA-recognised Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) materials and services to raise the participation and attainment of 14-19 year olds in Bristol. The underpinning evaluation work led to the author being appointed as a consultant to an LSDA-funded national research project on assessment in the Learning and Skills Sector, led by Torrance (MMU). Both the publication and the reports on which it is based have had an impact on the practices of ASDAN and the regional LSC. James was responsible for 90% of this publication.
Uncontrolled Keywords:learner engagement, assessment, performativity
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education > Department of Education and Childhood
ID Code:132
Deposited By: M. Mceachran
Deposited On:12 Aug 2009 08:19
Last Modified:02 Aug 2016 14:39

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