Towards integrated assessment in South African higher education
CITATION: Beets, P. 2009. Towards Integrated Assessment in South African Higher Education, in E. Bitzer (ed.). Higher Education in South Africa: A Scholarly Look behind the Scenes. Stellenbosch: SUN MeDIA. 183-202. doi:10.18820/9781920338183/09.
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Chapters in Books
Higher education institutions are increasingly challenged to address pressing societal needs. This has led to changes in the nature of knowledge production and the competencies students are required to develop through teaching programmes. One area in which this change is evident is in a shift from Mode 1 knowledge that refers to pure, disciplinary, homogeneous, expert-led university-based knowledge to Mode 2 knowledge characterised as applied, problem-solving, transdisciplinary, heterogeneous and network-embedded. Consequently many teaching programmes now tend to focus not only on the knowledge (foundational) component, but also on the skills (practical) and application (reflexive) components of learning. All these components are necessary to support students to not only acquire memorised factual knowledge, but also to integrate their acquired competencies in different contexts so as to fulfil roles in the world beyond higher education. Assessment that serves as a catalyst for both teaching and learning can play a role in guiding and supporting the processes aimed at the attainment of applied competence. The response of the South African government to this challenge in higher education is to use assessment formatively and summatively in attaining applied competence. This chapter attempts to contextualise the tensions between the current assessment practices in higher education and what policies propose. It is argued that simply embracing these policies is problematic because the priorities of higher education and the state vary due to the different constituencies they serve and their concomitant priorities and imperatives. From an analysis of current higher education assessment practices, ways of mediating this divide are suggested, also serving as pointers for further research in this area.