Two paradigms of assessment

Year: 1994

Author: Hager, Paul, Butler, Jim

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Many educational developments in recent decades pose a serious challenge to the traditional scientific measurement paradigm that has dominated assessment practices. The scientific measurement paradigm has led to an over-emphasis on statistical tests and the reification of single measure test scores. The educational developments that challenge the scientific measurement paradigm include problem-based learning, newer understandings of cognition, and the rise of performance assessment. These developments reflect widespread attempts by educators to reform assessment practices so as to encourage more effective learning. As a result, a new paradigm of educational assessment, which we call the judgemental paradigm, is emerging.

The basic assumptions and features of these two paradigms will be compared and contrasted by referring them to a three-level conceptual model of education, training and assessment for workplace performance. In this model, each of the levels is nested in, and a prerequisite of, the next level. Also each of the levels has its own appropriate curriculum and assessment technology. The contrasting strengths, limitations and appropriate uses of the two assessment paradigms are underlined and clarified by considering their differing contributions to, and roles in, the proposed three-level model of education, training and assessment for workplace performance.