University assessment practices through a lens of feminist pedagogy




Chitnev, Veta

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Assessment is crucial for students’ learning. The theory and practice of assessment, however, has received little attention in the literature on critical feminist pedagogy, due to difficulties in reconciling the notion of feminist pedagogy with that of assessment.This study aims to address that issue by exploring forms of assessment in higher education language learning that align with feminist principles. This research employs both case study and autoethnographic approaches. Data were collected from interviews with six university instructors and from the researcher’s own teaching journal. All participants were full-time faculty at a department of modern languages and literature at a large Canadian research university.This study addresses three questions: 1) What forms of assessment do instructors in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures use that comply with principles of critical feminist pedagogy? 2) What tensions exist for instructors related to assessment in higher education? 3) How can these tensions be addressed using a feminist reconceptualization of assessment? The study revealed that implementing graded summative assessment, especially when teaching large classes, creates pressure and discontent for university instructors. It was also found that formative teacher’s feedback, peer and self-assessment, complete/incomplete grading, and diagnostic assessment reduce competition between students and serve to mitigate the power imbalance between students and teachers. Suggestions are provided to address the discontent and pressures reported by the participants and to recon ceptualize assessment practices to bring them into alignment with feminist pedagogy.



assessment, feminist pedagogy, university, higher education, evaluation, grading, policies