Conceptual acrobatics: talking about assessment standards in the transparency era

Hudson, Jane, Bloxham, Susan, den Outer, Birgit and Price, Margaret (2017) Conceptual acrobatics: talking about assessment standards in the transparency era. Studies in Higher Education, 42 (7). pp. 1309-1323.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1092130

Abstract

Since their introduction in the 1990s, explicit standards documents have pervaded higher education assessment – success likely linked to their compatibility with constructive alignment and quality assurance regimes. Researchers, however, criticise that such documents are based on a misconception of standards as explicit and absolute, when in fact standards have tacit and contextual qualities that make it impossible to codify them fully. This article considers how practitioners conceive of standards. It identifies the range of concepts of standards, and looks at which were dominant or marginal in 24 external examiners’ responses to interview questions about their examining practice. The article identifies a significant gap between the theoretical positions asserted in the research literature and the conceptions held by experienced academics tasked with guaranteeing national standards. It considers implications for quality assurance and reflects on whether the dominance of transparency and accountability discourses leads academics to contort the way they talk about standards.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in Higher Education
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 1470-174X
Departments: Faculty of Education, Arts and Business > Institute of the Arts > Humanities
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 15:12
Last Modified: 30 May 2017 15:39
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/2970

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