Expanding Assessment Thinking: Values, Judgment and Design
I don't think that assessment is unique to educational contexts. Rather, I believe that assessment is something we do daily. The decisions and actions we engage in every day are based upon our our values and our weighing of factors in relation to situations. The ways we label the world with our words requires acts of assessment. For example, what assessments did you make when you saw the ocean scene posted alongside the title of this commentary?
Sometimes assessments relate to the simple elements of daily life like which movie to go see on the weekend or what to have for breakfast; other times they are more weighty and we are more consciously deliberative.
I have argued in some of my writing that assessment is about values, judgment and design--we use our values to decide what we choose to assess, how we assess, and what happens as a consequence of the assessment. Judgment involves weighing those values in relation to actions and artifacts that are fleeting representations of either the control of a knowledge domain, process or a skill. Design describes the architectures or shells we use to involve others in actions that we assess.
I know that many people in education like the distinctions of formal and informal assessment or formative and summative assessment. When I think of the first contrast--formal vs informal--it seems to be more of a stance about the consequences of the assessment rather than the nature of the assessment. The second contrast--fromative and summative focuses on the uses of the assessment which also lead to consequences.