Complexities in managing assessment change: understanding patterns of resistance

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Research and Development in Higher Education: The Place of Learning and Teaching Vol. 36

July, 2013, 534 pages
Published by
Frielick, S., Buissink-Smith, N., Wyse, P., Billot, J., Hallas, J. and Whitehead, E.

Achieving change in assessment practices in higher education is an issue of pressing concern, as assessment both promotes and provides evidence of learning. Resistance may, however emerge around staff perceptions of change and the motivations behind it. This resistance may manifest in how staff respond to and discuss assessment change. Analyzing staff discussions of a change initiative as it is taking place is, then of concern both to research on change management and institutions seeking to engage in assessment change. This paper seeks to address this by analyzing an attempt to change assessment practices at one institution. An institution-wide pilot of new assessment practices was attempted, involving 35 instructors across 12 departments. Using data collected from the change initiative, an analysis was conducted to determine emergent patterns of resistance in staff discussions. Findings include assessment as an area provoking significant resistance beyond other areas, and that resistance is not a unitary concept, but that instead, stakeholders under varied circumstances may express resistance differently. Findings are discussed in relationship to current theories of higher education assessment and change management as well as practical considerations of institutions attempting to engage in assessment change.

Keywords: Assessment, resistance, change management 

Complexities in managing assessment change: understanding patterns of resistance

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Deneen, Christopher Charles & Boud, David