2nd Asia-Pacific Educational Integrity Conference
Dumbing Down: Some Ethical Questions in Assessment
Andrew Johnson - Monash University
Assessment raises a number of ethical questions for markers, no less than for students. Considerable attention has been paid to the ethical, or more accurately, supposedly unethical behaviour of students in recent years related to the increase in incidences of plagiarism. Less attention has been paid to the competing ethical demands faced by assessors in an educational environment that has undergone rapid and radical transformation. The insistence on maintaining standards, on not dumbing-down courses, or passing underperforming students are among the stronger imperatives which educators at all levels are expected to follow. And yet, the models of assessment assumed in this imperative (normative) may be at odds with models of assessment, such as criterion or competency based assessment, practised in tertiary education. This paper explores the ethical questions that arise in the tension between different notions of assessment, from the perspective of what might constitute a ‘fair' assessment practice for students.
Keywords: assessment practice, ethics, standards, fairness