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Linda Drew and Alison Shreeve University of the Arts London
Themes: learning and teaching methods, supporting learners
The opportunity presented by assessment is potentially the most powerful learning situation a student can encounter during their time in formal learning. This paper commences with a review of research which shows that both students and teachers can understand assessment in different ways (Samuelowicz and Bain, 2002; Shreeve et al, 2004a, 2004b) and how this presents a potential space in which a miss-match of intentions can result in some students not achieving their full potential. Students can adopt a different approach to assessment depending on the way they perceive the context and the approach it affords (Laurillard, 1984).
This conceptual paper further discusses previous research into the way students in creative practice subjects perceive the nature of their subject. The quality of the learning environment in creative practice subjects relates to the context and the conceptions of learning and teaching held by both teacher and student (Drew, 2004; Drew & Williams, 2003; Reid & Davies, 2000) and the way in which they understand assessment. Conceptions of teaching held by creative practice academics support the notion of a community of practice dimension where the most complete conceptions concern helping learners becoming a practitioner through change in the student lifeworld. This paper explores the role assessment could play in student learning if teachers also understood assessment to be about a process of becoming a practitioner, rather than a discrete function of grading and sorting skills and abilities.
The paper takes as its premise the idea of learning as a social practice, that of engaging in legitimate peripheral participation (Lave and Wenger, 1991) into a community of practice (Wenger, 2000). In this sense, we propose that assessment becomes an aspect of community in which both teachers and students are engaged in interaction, with the purpose of creating an identity associated with the creative profession of future employment.