School of Education

CANCELLED - How should we 'measure' student achievement in universities?

Wednesday 10th June 2015 (12:30-14:00)
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Professor Melanie Walker, University of the Free State, South Africa

The paper will outline the case for a capabilities-friendly approach in higher education practice, policy and evaluation. According to this normative approach to human well-being and agency, higher education ought to enable the full range of opportunities and achievements for every student, and for diverse students, while also contributing to commitments to the good of others. As such it is an inclusive, social justice friendly approach, concerned with equity in higher education and reducing inequalities in society through the actions of graduates. By drawing on a theoretical approach in the development ethics field rather than only from the higher education literature, the paper further seeks to align development with higher education in ways which might benefit both fields. To illustrate the argument for capabilities, the paper looks at the lives of students and then uses the examples to sketch different approaches to information on and the evaluation of well-being, with the capability approach argued for as the most robust. The paper then details the need also for the educational formation of agents who will make ethical contributions to reducing inequalities and poverty in society. Four worthwhile higher education capabilities are advanced: affiliation, critical capacities and ethical citizenship, as well as economic opportunities, and some policy implications are briefly sketched. Finally, some of the gaps in the capability approach are noted.

School of Education

University of Nottingham
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