Citekey: @Hickey2010

Hickey, D. T., Honeyford, M. A., Clinton, K. A., & McWilliams, J. (2010). Participatory assessment of 21st century proficiencies. In V. J. Shute & B. J. Becker (Eds.), Innovative assessment for the 21st century (pp. 107–138). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-6530-1



8.1 New Media the Technology Proficiencies and Schools (p. 109)

Recent studies reveal the tremendous levels of “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out” in friendship-driven and interest-driven social networks (Ito, 2008). This has highlighted the awkward relationship between these communities and schools. (p. 109)

8.1.1 Why Bother? (p. 109)

The widening participation gap in new media is a concern (p. 109)

Put differently, this gap blocks opportunities for learning “the new embodiments of ‘being literate’ in contemporary culture” (Steinkuehler, Black, & Clinton, 2005). (p. 110)

8.2 Efforts to Bridge the Void Between New Proficiencies and Schools (p. 110)

Gee defines being literate as having control of what he calls secondary Discourses. Where primary Discourses are ways of using language learned in one’s home and community, secondary Discourses are associated with “secondary institutions,” such as schools. By defining literacy as control of secondary Discourses, Gee (1989, p. 542) suggests that “when one is learning to read and to write, one is actually learning ways of reading and writing that connect up with the values, purposes, and worldviews of the secondary Discourse wherein the learning is occurring (and, consequentially, which exist in relation to the learner’s primary Discourse—for better or worse).” (p. 111) New Approaches to Writing (p. 112)

The NCTE report Writing in the Twenty-First Century (Yancey, 2009) points out that new media means “composers become composers not through direct and formal instruction alone (if at all), but rather through what we might call an extracurricular social co-apprenticeship” (p. 5). Thus, “our impulse to write is now digitized and expanded—or put differently, newly technologized, socialized, and networked” (2009, p. 5). (p. 112)

The National Writing Project’s Teaching the New Writing (Herrington, Hodgson, & Moran, 2009) examines how writing teachers across the nation are responding to new technologies. For example, in Teaching Writing Using Blogs, Wikis, and other Digital Tools, Beach, Anson, Breuch, and Swiss (2008) show how digital tools can transform schools to engage students in “meaningful multimodal literacy practices.” Hull and Nelson (2005) illustrated the potential for multimodal literacy in their ongoing work with Digital Underground Storytelling for Youth, an urban afterschool/summer program. They argued that multimodality increases the “multiplex ways by which people can make meaning in the world” and affords “a democratizing force” by incorporating the “views and values of more people than ever before” (p. 226). In Chicago, The Digital Youth Network shows the promise of a hybrid digital literacy program that brings inand out-of-school learning closer together by developing students’ new media literacies in an after-school learning environment so students can utilize them in school. (p. 113)

Instead, we argue that framing new proficiencies primarily as specific skills that can be measured in isolation from their contexts of use necessarily overlooks the most important aspects needed to foster them in schools (Greeno, 1997). Thus, we contend that these new proficiencies should primarily be framed as social practices, which are best understood by interpreting the ways they are used and learned in the social networks in which they emerge (or might emerge). We further contend that these proficiencies should be framed secondarily as individual conceptual understanding, as might be understood by assessing whether individuals can solve similar problems that require those proficiencies. We then argue that only once the proficiencies have been interpreted in their social context and then assessed as individual understanding should they be measured in the aggregate on any conceivable standardized external test. (p. 117)

In short, we believe that the next generation of achievement tests should be used “at a distance” to track and evaluate the success of curricula and policies in fostering broad attainment of these new proficiencies. Our argument is grounded in two primary aspects of validity theory. (p. 117)

8.3.1 Evidential Validity (p. 117)

Theoretically, we embrace the doubts of situativity theorists (e.g., Greeno & Gresalfi, 2008) about the validity of scores from any individual assessment of knowledge. But we choose to pragmatically sequester that concern, because we also agree that policy makers and program evaluators need measures that are aligned to common standards (and largely independent of particular curricular approaches) in order to provide valid evidence for documenting the impact of policies, tracking long-term improvement, conducting studies that generalize beyond the sample, etc. For better or worse, our efforts aim to bridge the tenuous void between these two positions. (p. 118)

8.4 A Proposed Participatory Alternative (p. 120)

8.4.3 Key Aspects and Assumptions of Participatory Assessment (p. 122)

Participatory assessment treats all participants in the education process as potential “learners.” This includes students, teachers, designers, administrators, and policy makers. (p. 126)

Our approach embraces Lemke’s (2000) suggestion that it is useful to analyze activity across three timescales, focusing on activity at a central timescale and aligning to those across adjacent timescales. (p. 126)

8.5 Conclusion (p. 134)

Obviously, this alternative approach is still in its infancy and raises far more problems than it solves. Because it is so solidly rooted in newer situative and participatory views of cognition and learning that have not been widely appreciated by the assessment and measurement community, we assume that some will find it quite dense and perhaps overly complicated. Conversely, because our approach acknowledges concerns over accountability that have been ignored or dismissed by the community associated with the practice-oriented responses, we anticipate puzzlement from some over our interest in improving performance on such measures. In response, we reiterate that this approach is a resolutely pragmatic one. We contend that most efforts to foster ethical, equitable, and transparent participation in new media and technology practices will eventually be forced to confront the tensions that we have explored in this chapter. (p. 134)

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