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Building on the past for the future : assessment for learning as a field of exchange

By Stephen Connolly


Standardised testing does not recognise the creativity and skills of marginalised youth. This paper presents the development of an innovative approach to assessment designed for the re-engagement of at risk youth who have left formal schooling and are now in an alternative education institution. An electronic portfolio system (EPS) has been developed to capture, record and build on the broad range of students’ cultural and social capital. The assessment as a field of exchange model draws on categories from sociological fields of capital and reconceptualises an eportfolio and social networking hybrid system as a sociocultural zone of learning and development. The EPS, and assessment for learning more generally, are conceptualised as social fields for the exchange of capital (Bourdieu 1977, 1990). The research is underpinned by a sociocultural theoretical perspective that focuses on how students and teachers at the Flexible Learning Centre (FLC) develop and learn, within the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). The EPS is seen to be highly effective in the engagement and social interaction between students, teachers and institutions. It is argued throughout this paper that the EPS provides a structurally identifiable space, an arena of social activity, or a field of exchange. The students, teachers and the FLC within this field are producing cultural capital exchanges. The term efield (exchange field) has been coined to refer to this constructed abstract space. Initial results from the trial show a general tendency towards engagement with the EPS and potential for the attainment of socially valued cultural capital in the form of school credentials

Topics: 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development, Assessment, Assessment for learning, Exchange, online assessment, Electronic portfolio system
Year: 2010
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