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The Swedish grade conference: A dialogical study of face-to-face delivery of summative assessment in higher education

Journal article
Authors Janna Meyer-Beining
Sylvi Vigmo
Åsa Mäkitalo
Published in Learning, Culture and Social Interaction
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 134-145
ISSN 2210-6561
Publication year 2018
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 134-145
Language en
Keywords Assessment interaction Summative assessment Higher education Dialogical studies Communicative projects
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Learning, Pedagogy


This article explores a summative assessment delivery activity frequently encountered in Swedish higher education, the grade conference. Drawing on data from a Swedish module on Environmental Engineering, we analyze ten video recorded face-to-face meetings, each involving one student and one teacher discussing a grade awarded on the basis of a student written report. Utilizing Linell's concept of communicative projects, our dialogical study describes the interactional characteristics of this institutional activity type. In that context, we also discuss the interactional framing of each meeting, the issues considered talk-about-able within the activity, as well as the institutional and personal expectations made salient in this type of summative assessment interaction. We find that the activity involves a small set of characteristic communicative projects, which on the whole serve the activity's overarching purpose of delivering and achieving acceptance of a previously determined grade on a student written report. Teacher dominated, the activity provides occasion to discuss different aspects of student work, but participants also engage in subtle negotiations of institutional and personal accountabilities.

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