CAERe & Linguistnet - Qualitative research and assessment literacy

25 February 2015, 4.30 PM - 25 February 2015, 6.00 PM

Steven Peters, GSoE alumnus, MSc EdRes

1.20, 35 Berkeley Square

Can discourse analysis drive impetus for change in assessment practices?

Time: 4:30 - 6pm.

Abstract: In recent studies exploring issues around assessment literacies (e.g. Harding, 2014; Manning, 2014), focus groups and questionnaires have been used to explore assessor and tutor beliefs and practices. This paper explores how these approaches can be enriched through the use of a discourse analysis (Alvesson and Sköldberg, 2009) approach and suggests that such an approach can encourage increased validity in educational research studies into assessment for learning.

The importance of seeing beyond the surface meaning of utterances in participant contributions to data through a focus on coherent discursive structures is explored. It is suggested that exploring the consistencies and inconsistencies across groups as well as individuals provides robust insights for researchers and participants, which can otherwise be missed. Furthermore, the use of semi-structured interviews and participant validation stages can facilitate an impetus for change in the practice setting.

An original empirical research project, conducted as part of a research training Masters, is presented. It draws on positioning theory (Davies and Harré, 1990) to explain what participants are doing in engaging in discourses and, going further, to what extent individuals participate in these. One finding was that participation was not equal across the members of the practice community studied. Patterns of consensus as well as inequality of engagement in discourses, it is suggested in this talk, are ways to understand how individuals may be enabled or constrained in shaping assessment practices and understandings of these. This paper hopes to encourage further research into assessment for learning which draws on the use of research tools to investigate and acknowledge the role practitioners play in shaping their development, acting within discursive structures, through discursive practices, and their effects.

Biography: Steven is an applied linguist currently working as an EAP tutor and educational researcher who has designed, delivered and developed post- graduate EAP and undergraduate linguistics courses in Higher Education in the UK and in Ethiopia. He completed an MSc in Educational Research at GSOE, University of Bristol in 2009. He has previously worked as a teacher trainer on the Trinity Certificate and Diploma TESOL programmes. His current research interests include teacher learning and teacher researcher learning.

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