Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

pp 1-6

Date: Latest Version

Assessment and Learner Identity

The individual in contemporary society is not so much described by tests as constructed by them. (Hanson 1994)


Evaluation; Student identity; Cultural activity


Standardized assessments play an ever increasing role in modern society. They often determine the life chances of those assessed, shaping learner identities. Assessment is a social activity and is value laden, despite attempts to make it seem objective and neutral. The appeal of testing, particularly in relation to selection, is that it is fairer than other methods. However, it has sometimes made claims that are hard to support, for example, the inferences drawn from intelligence tests, which have profoundly affected learner identities. Ways in which assessment can contribute positively to learner identities are then considered.

Assessment as a Social Activity

Assessment is a social activity which has always been part of the fabric of life. Used in the broad sense of gathering information to make judgments, it has ...

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