Dr Maddalena Taras

tickSectarian divides and challenges in assessment Assessment is often perceived as creating tensions of power in the triumvirate with learning and teaching. Assessment is not a homogenous, single concept: in addition, social and political issues encroach on educational processes and principles. Add to this already volatile mix current discourses and concepts of learner and learning centredness, independent learners, self-regulated learning, student voice, student empowerment and we find an uneasy truce seems to have been agreed between assessment and learning and teaching.

This keynote will challenge the “tensions” around issues of assessment. It does this in three ways by examining:

  • cross-sector concepts of feedback;
  • the relative roles of learners and tutors in feedback and assessment;
  • ways in which assessment may have a place in the above discourses.

A key question is: how can learner and learning-centred, learning oriented and empowering assessment deliver for students? Also, importantly: how can tutors discover assessment processes which provide them with the courage and the confidence to let go of their perceptions and fears of redundancy and disempowerment if they relinquish their traditional hold on assessment? It will suggest that it is, perhaps, by examining the ethicality and ‘transparency’ of our own understandings and practices that we can better support our students.


Dr Maddalena Taras, Dept of Education, University of Sunderland, UK

Maddalena has an extensive record of research in higher education assessment with outcomes relevant to all levels of education. Her work has had an important impact on debate, staff development and academic practice in UK universities and internationally. It covers assessment practices and discourses including linguistic and cultural influences on perceptions of assessment. Her original self-assessment model linking practice and theory regarding supporting student learning and inclusion in assessment has created a paradigm shift in thinking. An original theoretical framework for summative, formative and self-assessment represents a second paradigm shift. She has also critiqued extensively Assessment for Learning as increasingly promoted in schools and initial teacher training world-wide. Maddalena’s work questions the definitions of formative assessment and the underpinning theoretical assumptions, identifying the contradictions that ensue in practice.


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