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Assessing the Complexity of Professional Achievement

Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 13 years, 3 months ago

Assessing the Complexity of Professional Achievement

Mantz Yorke




Professional achievement is not limited to the well-established professions since professional behaviour is required in a wide range of occupations and voluntary work.  This situational variety makes the detailed specification of achievement standards (as some are seeking) extremely – and in most circumstances prohibitively – challenging.  Approaches to assessment that are rooted in ideas of scientific measurement (which inflect a lot of assessment in contemporary higher education) are inappropriate to the assessment of professional achievement and need to be replaced by an approach based upon professional judgement.  This can be characterised in terms of a shift away from realism and towards relativism in assessment.  Two consequences are the need to take a critical perspective regarding the merits of technicalities of assessment that reflect psychometric thinking and, where an overall grade is involved, the need to consider the appropriateness of privileging assessments of academic work over those of professional achievement.


The challenges faced in work and volunteering range from the routine to the novel.  The professional has to deal with both, often in situations in which a ‘good enough’ solution is the best that can be achieved.  The assessor has the task of judging the achievement with respect to the prevailing circumstances.  Assessors from workplaces often prefer to make broad judgements of achievement.  A key issue is the capacity of assessors to make sound judgements.  In some areas of higher education assessors are well-versed in assessing professional achievement: in others there is less expertise in such assessing, and hence there is a strong argument for relevant development work. 


Assessing professional achievement is demanding on resources.  Assessment regimes have to be given a ‘reality check’ regarding what is practicable and what limitations follow regarding what can formally be warranted.



































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