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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
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Friday, June 19 • 9:30am - 10:15am
CON11.06 - Indeterminate roots and diminished sevenths: Exploring the functions of evaluation and assessment in teaching and learning using chord theory

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An understanding of music theory is a fantastic advantage, as it allows us to appreciate the complexity of a given piece and to communicate musical ideas. Music theory also helps us understand how music works, along with the functions of the various components in a piece. In this interactive musical session, I playfully use music theory as a metaphor to explore the value and potential of evaluation and assessment as resources in a pedagogue’s toolkit, outlining the functions that these play in my own practice of teaching anthropology at the undergraduate level. While evaluation is summative and tends to focus on grades, the heart of assessment is much broader. It assists in student learning, helps pinpoint learners’ strengths and weaknesses, serves to improve teaching and program effectiveness, and plays a number of other roles in the learning and teaching process. Despite a sustained emphasis on the advantages of assessment in learning and teaching research, however, assessment’s underutilization and evaluation’s disproportionate prioritization are persistent leitmotifs in many undergraduate teaching and learning contexts. Using chord theory to delve into the root causes of the continued dissonance between research and practice in teaching and learning, I will delineate strategic structural reasons and outline some of the groundwork that is to be done at various levels in order for concordance to be achieved at our institutions. A small group sharing session will follow, where participants will be invited to assess the challenges identified, recognize further issues, and design concrete multi-level strategies for overcoming these.


ASTIN, A. W. (2012). Assessment for excellence: The philosophy and practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

BROWN, S., & GLASNER, A. (1999). Assessment matters in higher education. Buckingham: Open University Press.

EARL, L. M. (2012). Assessment as learning: Using classroom assessment to maximize student learning. London: Corwin Press.

ROWLAND, S. (2000). The enquiring university teacher. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Friday June 19, 2015 9:30am - 10:15am PDT
Thompson Room

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