The obsession 'to assess', is an invention of the modern period, conceived from colleges around the 17th century. In modern days, this practice has become inseparable from education, and it is admitted as a part of the process of learning. 'To assess', can be defined as an approach, or a process leading to a judgement or decision-making. It can be a qualitative or quantitative judgement on the value of a person, an object, a process or a situation, based on the comparison between its characteristics and established norms or explicit criteria. This practise aims at providing information in order to make a decision about a goal. Then, we understand that 'to assess' is a sociological way to build and negotiate representations since this process stands on cultural standards, that is to say, on a specific system of orientation, ( way of perceiving, thinking, valuing, acting that the majority of people within a culture considers as 'normal') only shared by a cultural group. This practice is a permanent element of individual action as well as social interactions. Finally, we can stress the fact that established norms and the method of judgement are social stakes, usually leading to antagonistic situation. Thus, we are led to wonder on which kind of cultural standard does the French type of assessment stands on and what the cultural role of such a practice is. Moreover, how assessment express particular cultural norms, and has an impact on individual actions and social interactions.
[...] Finally, we can say that Finally, assessment plays a major role on the professional direction of people. Indeed, an assessment sometimes determines the career of a person since it can influence on his admission in a school, at a job or at a scholarship. In a more general way, it influences people's career and life since for every transition (change of grade, of school, of job), the selection of students is made on marks. From this prospect, we can say that assessment, and education in general, contributes to the personal development of an individual. [...]
[...] Marks are established according to a norm of excellency and are then used to classified students. Thus, every test leads to the establishment of a hierarchy between pupils symbolised by the restitution of papers in a chronological order (from the highest mark to the lowest or conversely). It seems that assessment is then used to stigmatise ignorance of some students and to emphasise the intellectual capacities of others. Moreover, these hierarchies by subjects finally lead to a hierarchy for the scholar year, symbolised by the handing of price (first, second and third prices for the best pupils), which decides for the studies course of students. [...]
[...] Moreover, if he pursued in this way of thinking, he risks experimenting discrimination or even exclusion from of his cultural group. Thus, we can acknowledge the fact that education, through assessment, plays on the integration of people in their cultural group. The practice to assess contributes to the maintenance of cultural standards by expecting from students that they reproduce them and also takes part in their reinforcement by granting them an important role in the social integration of individual. On a more global perspective, it also seems that assessment contributes to the legitimisation of the social order. [...]
[...] Bourdieu stresses it, the academic culture is an elite culture, that's to say that the best students mostly come from privileged and dominant class/rank but are presented by the academic system (especially through marks and hierarchies) as the most commendable students (since they get the highest marks in a system described as egalitarian). Unlike, those who obtain the lowest marks are the one whose culture (cultural system of reference) is not recognised but are presented by the academic system as less studious. [...]
[...] The result would be that the assessor doesn't exactly estimate the competence the student thought was important to put forward. Finally, we can deplore the fact that such a system limits the emergence of new ideas, at least of ideas that are not appropriate within one's culture, and makes it harder to question established norms. We can also notice that the practice of assessment reinforces these cultural standards by describing them as “natural” and by presenting the method of evaluation as neutral. [...]
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