Social construction, discourse and outdoor instruction assessment
Chisholm, Hilary Anne
This research focuses on the social construction of assessment discourse(s) and how this construction creates, limits or sustains possibilities in outdoor instructor assessment in New Zealand (NZ). To achieve this I adopt a post-structural analytic framework to analyse key texts and interview transcripts of experienced outdoor educators/instructors/assessors. Interest for this topic emerged from my own experiences of assessment and from assessing others. Particularly the way distinct and conflicting discourses about the how, why and what of assessment seemed to be present at certain times and not in others. The first aim was to explore the dominant discourses of the reforms in NZ since the election of the fourth Labour Government of 1984. In particular I focus upon the education and assessment reforms, which create the context within which outdoor instructor assessment sits. The second aim was to explore how outdoor educator/instructor assessors construct their beliefs about their practice and understanding of outdoor education/instructor assessment. The theoretical position is loosely based upon critical social theory, however it is more heavily influenced by some of the key concepts of post-structuralism and in particular the work of Michel Foucault. Given the nature of the topic, social construction of discourses in outdoor education/instructor assessment, a qualitative research methodology was most appropriate to gain some understanding of how experienced outdoor education/instructor assessors' construct their beliefs on assessment. I use discourse analysis as an approach for analysing the data, particularly a genealogical analysis of some of the key documents and a 'thematic decomposition' of interview transcripts. The study highlights how neo-liberal ideology has underpinned much of the literature in education/recreation instructor assessment. It shows how the introduction of performance-criterion- standard based outdoor instructor assessment was based on very little reflection in terms of educational philosophy. Standard based assessment is problematic in terms of education philosophy as it fails to acknowledge the difficulty of introducing national standards in a discipline (outdoor education) that is extremely difficult to define. Equally it is a process that fails to acknowledge the interests and needs of individual instructors/educators. Much of the philosophy espoused in the outdoor assessment literature and in a great deal of the interview data supports liberal and more conservative neo-liberal discourses. Consequently there is almost a complete absence of any recognition that power is a central feature in the creation of the assessment criteria or their implementation. In conclusion I argue, that if assessment has to happen, maybe we (the outdoor community) should move towards a process that is more formative than summative. Moving this way would lower the 'stakes' and it would allow a move towards an assessment process that adopts a more critically aware philosophy.
Degree Name: Master of Physical Education
Degree Discipline: Physical Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
xi, 199 leaves ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: Physical Education. "March 2001."