Student perspectives on assessment:connections between self and society

McArthur, Jan and Blackie, Margaret and Pitterson, Nicole and Rosewell, Kayleigh (2022) Student perspectives on assessment:connections between self and society. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 47 (5). pp. 698-711. ISSN 0260-2938

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This article explores STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) student associations of assessment with individual achievement, becoming part of a discipline or profession, or developing an orientation towards society. This perspective is based in Frankfurt School critical theory, which argues for the inter-relation between individual and social wellbeing. From a critical theory perspective, education should facilitate movement from a conception of the individual as autonomous towards the individual as a member of society: this is the foundation of social justice. We consider this philosophical position against the empirical experiences of students to explore the extent to which their engagement with assessment has helped shape a sense of interconnectedness between themselves and others in society. We describe a longitudinal and comparative study among chemistry and chemical engineering undergraduate students at universities in England, South Africa and the USA. The study finds that only a very small number of students display any orientation to society when discussing assessment. This is surprising because there are a number of socially-related assessment tasks within the curricula. More may be required to achieve a higher education oriented to social justice than simply the deliberate inclusion of socially-related activities in the curriculum or as assessment tasks.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education on 10/08/2021, available online:
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Deposited On:
21 Jul 2021 11:10
Last Modified:
26 May 2023 04:35