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Challenges of Assessment in Ethics – Teachers’ reflections when assessing National Tests

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Christina Osbeck
Olof Franck
Annika Lilja
Annika Lindskog
Publicerad i EDUCARE – Vetenskapliga skrifter
Volym 2015
Nummer/häfte 2
Sidor 19-47
ISSN 1653-1868
Publiceringsår 2015
Publicerad vid Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession
Sidor 19-47
Språk en
Länkar www.mah.se/upload/FAKULTETER/LS/Pub...
Ämnesord assessment, ethics, national tests, religious education, think aloud


The aim of this article is to identify and discuss challenges in assessing pupils’ knowledge in Ethics. The background of the study is the development of the knowledge field Ethics, a part of Religious Education (RE) in Sweden which in the sixties went from being a Christian school subject to a pluralistic and non-confessional one. The knowledge field Ethics is, in this school context, marked by vagueness, due partly to its indistinct frames and partly to a duality in the aims represented in the directives of the curriculum. Methodologically, data was produced through a think-aloud study where six teachers assessed pupil-responses in Ethics within the National Test for RE. The teachers’ ongoing assessments were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed in a qualitative text analysis that focused on different kinds of challenges that the teachers experienced. Since this kind of study has not been conducted before, the analyses were explorative and, rather than being theory guided, were guided by the aim and the research question of the study. The findings show three groups of challenges related to the assessment processes. The first group of challenges concerns interpretations of the assessment instructions, the second regards competing ideas about what students should be given credit for during assessment in Ethics and the third is about being positioned between the pupils’ need for good grades and the task of differentiating between students. The discussion distinguishes between general challenges in assessment and challenges related to Ethics and its partly unclear character in the RE school context. In such a situation when the construction of a knowledge field is vague, the influence of national tests can be assumed to be considerable and the need for research regarding different conceptions of ethical competence is therefore urgent.

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