Engaging in Speculation and Critical Reflection About Future Assessment Practice

  • Author / Creator
    Stéphanie A. La France
  • I see assessment as a continuous and dynamic process and practice of sitting beside one-another and co-creating evidence of learning mathematics in a way that contributes positively to the strength, wellness, value and worth of the student, the students learning, and the discipline of mathematics. Unfortunately, my assessment practice in mathematics has not showcased this definition. In fact, I have exclusively used testing as a means of gathering data on students learning. This assessment practice is situated within sterile, isolative and competitive environments that act as a means to place students in a hierarchy of competence, the consequence being that privileged populations continue to be privileged within and outside of the classroom, and mathematics, as a school subject, becomes dehumanised. I have faced many barriers to moving towards alternatives to testing, some of which are hard to imagine overcoming.
    The philosophy driving this inquiry is that I must dream first and negotiate later. As such, the purpose of this research is to investigate my dream for assessment in mathematics if the barriers I face now were not so concrete, and propose an alternative vision for my future practice. I engage in research with the above definition in mind, and ask: what might I come to know about my future assessment practice?
    I use the Dynamic Systems Model for Role Identity as a theoretical framework with four components: self-perceptions and self-definitions, ontological and epistemological beliefs, sense of purpose, and perceived action possibilities (Garner & Kaplan, 2019). I weave autoethnography with speculative fiction to propose an alternative approach to assessment practice in a way that engenders critical thought an assessment practice in relation to self and students. In weaving the two methodologies together, I present a proposal of an alternative approach to assessment in mathematics, and do so in a critically reflexive way so as to showcase the influence of my own role identity on what I perceive to be an ideal assessment practice.

    Through this research, three qualities of assessment practice emerged which are holism, multiplicity and shared responsibility. These three qualities shift the attention to more equitable assessment practice. I then suggest a task and analyse it on the basis of its alignment with these three dimensions of assessment practice. Finally, I find a new understanding of a future assessment practice in terms of my own identity by engaging in identity work. The discussion yields new understanding and entanglements with how I come to know what students know, what it means to do mathematics, and my role of self-as-educator.
    This research is about speculating on and interrogating future assessment practice, and is useful in so much as it speaks to others in the field, and provides researchers who study others to hear directly from one of those others. The contribution to scholarship in mathematics education provides further insight into how we conceptualise what assessment could be if we were to diverge from normative approaches that act as barriers to pursuing alternative futures for assessment planning and execution that isolate and dehumanise students.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.