Assessment & Enculturation

Week 6 Theme: Assessment, Reflection, Participation

The focus of this week was on assessment, but in thinking of assessment, I revisited some of my key assumptions regarding knowledge. 

Understanding knowledge as something that occurs between people, makes me think that in some ways it is an act of perpetually attempting to reach consensus (notes 1447, 1512) and through the act of negotiation creating new shared knowledge. One of my colleagues raised a question regarding personalized learning VS standardized competencies (note 1493), which gave me a lot to think about with regards to this and allowed me to reflect on another of my initial guiding questions: “How can online learning support a balance between both individualized/personal  learning and social learning?”

My original question assumed a dichotomy between individual learning and social learning; however, this week I explored this idea in more detail, and reflected further on the concept of learning as an act of enculturation, as I explored in my Week 5 journal. Bruner writes that learners must make knowledge their own, but within “a community of those who share his[sic] sense of belonging to a culture” (qtd. In Reusser, 2001, p. 2058).  Vygotsky similarly considers individual knowledge and social knowledge intertwined. In Mind in Society, he writes that “Every function in the child’s[sic] cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child[sic] (intrapsychological).” (1987, p. 57) I think that what that essentially means is that social learning and personalized learning need to both be considered in larger learning design. 

The implications of these two planes of learning for assessment intrigue me as well. In designing an asynchronous learning activity, do we assess the social aspects of learning demonstrated through the discussion? Or should we assess the intrapsychological aspects of learning within the individual? To take this thought even further, is it even possible to assess internalized knowledge, or is the act of assessment actually another negotiation of knowledge? 

The epistemological theory of assessment continues to fascinate me on an abtract level, but this week was also about finding a way to practically implement an assessment plan. Considering Bruner’s statement that knowledge is a process (see my week 2 journal entry), and Vrasidas’ claim that constructivist assessment is “more concerned with assessing the knowledge construction process and not as much concerned with assessing knowledge” (2000, p. 11), I’ve begun to wonder if a constructivist assessment model is in some ways at odds with Competency-Based Medical Education (note 1513). I feel that in many ways the teaching and learning theories align, but I think that extra care needs to be taken in the design of assessment tools. This is where I’m hoping to shift my focus for the remainder of the assignment for this course.


Reusser, K. (2001) “Co-constructivism in Educational Theory and Practice” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, pp. 2058 – 2062. Retrieved from

Vrasidas, C. (2000). Constructivism versus objectivism: Implications for interaction, course design, and evaluation in distance education. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 6(4), 339–362.

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