Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation examines the cultural practice of assessment at King Middle School, a grades 6--8 school in Portland, Maine. I trace this school's reform efforts over 23 years, within the current development of school-wide practices over time, in relation to making work public.
I used a sociocultural framework, which allowed for an examination of the situation-as-a-whole, to see learning as distributed among people, time and objects, and to view artifacts of student work as boundary objects ---sites of negotiation among people from different, but related, social worlds. A sociocultural perspective also allowed for an expansive notion of assessment that included not just individual classroom strategies or school-wide practices, but also the system of assessment across communities.
I adopted a grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis. My research yielded a mid-level theory about how sharing work with audiences---and the resulting recognition---shapes students, teachers, institutions and communities. Accordingly, this theory also describes a dialectic process---how institutions, communities, teachers and students shape the cultural practice of assessment. In line with a sociocultural perspective, I also found that recognition was not simply something produced through student work, but was an inherent feature of the activity.
In conclusion, I share implications on three levels: conceptual, methodological and practical. Conceptually, I offer a developmental understanding of recognition in which recognition can be seen as a rich site of acknowledgement for contributions to, and membership in, communities. My practical findings include recommendations for policy, schools and classrooms such as: (1) Allowing multiple types of evidence to 'count' as measures of academic achievement; (2) intentionally perforating the traditional boundaries of school; (3) creating opportunities for students to engage in reciprocal caring; and (4) seeing assessment as integral to, rather than separate from, learning.
Rheingold, Alison Ann, "Stories worth telling: How one school navigates tensions between innovation and standards" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations. 632.