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'Learning careers' or 'assessment careers'? The impact of assessment systems on learning

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn Ecclestone


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Two increasingly important strands in current educational thinking are reflected in growing interest amongst researchers, policy-makers and qualification designers in formative assessment strategies that motivate learners and enhance their educational attainment. In addition, a body of research suggests that learners develop 'learning careers' from primary education, through the National Curriculum into post-compulsory education and beyond. This article engages with this work in order to highlight some key factors in 'learning careers', particularly in relation to the impact of formative assessment practices. It aims to relate findings from research on formative assessment in primary and further education, carried out by the authors, to studies which use Bourdieu's notions of 'habitus', ' field', 'cultural capital' and 'social capital' to explore learning careers and learning identities in different sectors of education. The article evaluates whether the concept of 'assessment careers' illuminates a specific strand within young people's 'learning careers'. In particular, it asks whether the concept might offer more precise insights about how practices produced by different assessment systems, particularly those purporting to promote formative assessment, affect learners' identities and dispositions for learning.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ecclestone K, Pryor J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Educational Research Journal

Year: 2003

Volume: 29

Issue: 4

Pages: 471-488

ISSN (print): 0141-1926

ISSN (electronic): 1469-3518

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/01411920


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