Book Chapter

Assessment of professionals’ continuous learning in practice



Fenwick T (2014) Assessment of professionals’ continuous learning in practice. In: Billett S, Harteis C & Gruber H (eds.) International Handbook of Research in Professional and Practice-based Learning. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 1271-1297.

Within contemporary policy contexts of urgent demands for professional accountability, more regulatory agencies, and increased measurement of outputs, this chapter outlines issues in the assessment of learning in practice. A key focus here is conflicting purposes of assessment and views about learning. Assessment dilemmas in practice contexts include pluralist expectations, unclear evaluative authority, and contested criteria given the different epistemic cultures at stake. Competing ideologies shape the demands and measures of what comprises ‘good' professional performance ensue from a range of stakeholders and knowledge sources. Struggles also unfold over the practicalities of assessing professional learning in situ. Finally, a key dilemma is reconciling the nature of practice itself with assessment of learning. Practice is largely recognized now to be a participational confluence of multiple actors and interactions, while the conventional focus for assessing professional learning still tends to be individual performance. The central difficulty is to conduct useful assessments with effective, explicit purposes that do not reduce complex practices to simplistic outcomes. Drawing from research case examples in diverse occupations such as medicine, teaching, pharmacy, accounting and nursing, this chapter critically examines current approaches to assess professional learning in practice. The discussion then turns to consider new conceptions of learning in practice from sociomaterial theories, conceptions that may help inspire new assessment approaches for the future.

Practice-based learning; Assessment of learning; Self-assessment; Sociomaterial theory

Title of seriesSpringer International Handbooks of Education
Publication date31/12/2014
Publisher URL…94-017-8902-8_46
Place of publicationDordrecht
ISSN of series2197-1951

People (1)


Professor Tara Fenwick
Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education