Educational Assessment - Summary Table of The Main Theoretical Frameworks

Summary Table of The Main Theoretical Frameworks

The following table summarizes the main theoretical frameworks behind almost all the theoretical and research work, and the instructional practices in education (one of them being, of course, the practice of assessment). These different frameworks have given rise to interesting debates among scholars.

Philosophical orientation Hume: British empiricism Kant, Descartes: Continental rationalism Hegel, Marx: cultural dialectic
Metaphorical Orientation Mechanistic/Operation of a Machine or Computer Organismic/Growth of a Plant Contextualist/Examination of a Historical Event
Leading Theorists B. F. Skinner (behaviorism)/ Herb Simon, John Anderson, Robert Gagné: (cognitivism) Jean Piaget/Robbie Case Lev Vygotsky, Luria, Bruner/Alan Collins, Jim Greeno, Ann Brown, John Bransford
Nature of Mind Initially blank device that detects patterns in the world and operates on them. Qualitatively identical to lower animals, but quantitatively superior. Organ that evolved to acquire knowledge by making sense of the world. Uniquely human, qualitatively different from lower animals. Unique among species for developing language, tools, and education.
Nature of Knowledge


Hierarchically organized associations that present an accurate but incomplete representation of the world. Assumes that the sum of the components of knowledge is the same as the whole. Because knowledge is accurately represented by components, one who demonstrates those components is presumed to know General and/or specific cognitive and conceptual structures, constructed by the mind and according to rational criteria. Essentially these are the higher-level structures that are constructed to assimilate new info to existing structure and as the structures accommodate more new info. Knowledge is represented by ability to solve new problems. Distributed across people, communities, and physical environment. Represents culture of community that continues to create it. To know means to be attuned to the constraints and affordances of systems in which activity occurs. Knowledge is represented in the regularities of successful activity.
Nature of Learning (the process by which knowledge is increased or modified) Forming and strengthening cognitive or S-R associations. Generation of knowledge by (1) exposure to pattern, (2) efficiently recognizing and responding to pattern (3) recognizing patterns in other contexts. Engaging in active process of making sense of ("rationalizing") the environment. Mind applying existing structure to new experience to rationalize it. You don't really learn the components, only structures needed to deal with those components later. Increasing ability to participate in a particular community of practice. Initiation into the life of a group, strengthening ability to participate by becoming attuned to constraints and affordances.
Features of Authentic Assessment Assess knowledge components. Focus on mastery of many components and fluency. Use psychometrics to standardize. Assess extended performance on new problems. Credit varieties of excellence. Assess participation in inquiry and social practices of learning (e.g. portfolios, observations) Students should participate in assessment process. Assessments should be integrated into larger environment.

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