Making to measure? Reconsidering assessment in professional continuing education



Fenwick T (2009) Making to measure? Reconsidering assessment in professional continuing education. Studies in Continuing Education, 31 (3), pp. 229-244.

Drawing on studies of teachers, accountants and pharmacists conducted in Canada, this essay examines models for assessing professional learning that currently enjoy widespread use in continuing education. These models include professional growth plans, self-administered tests, and learning logs, and they are often used for regulatory as well as developmental purposes by professional associations. The essay argues what others have critiqued about such self-assessment models: that their assumptions about learning are problematic and limiting in a number of respects, privileging human consciousness and intention, and literally ‘making’ a particular professional subject that is atomised and conservative. The essay goes on to suggest alternative perspectives that are receiving increasing attention in theorising work-related learning and that may offer fruitful questions for re-considering the nature of professional learning and its assessment. Three perspectives in particular are outlined, all of which shift the focus from the learning subject to practice as material, emergent and systemic: complexity theory, actor-network theory and cultural-historical activity theory. The discussion concludes with possible approaches to assessment of professional practice suggested by these perspectives.

continuing professional development; assessment of learning; practice-based learning; Education Sociological aspects Research; Experiential learning

Studies in Continuing Education: Volume 31, Issue 3

Publication date30/11/2009
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)

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Professor Tara Fenwick
Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education