Does student self-assessment empower or discipline students?

Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Publication Type:
Journal article
Tan, H. 2003 'Does student self-assessment empower or discipline students?', Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 167-185.
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Student self-assessment is a popular practice for enhancing student empowerment in the assessment process. However, in recent times various writers have questioned whether the practice of student self-assessment automatically enhances student autonomy. Some writers have even warned that students' participation in the assessment process may discipline, rather than empower, students. How can student self-assessment be practised in a way that empowers its students instead of discip1ining or controlling them? It is argued that student empowerment can only be realized if the ways that power is exercised over students in self-assessment practices are first understood. This paper examines the issues of power that underlie student self-assessment practices and analyses how different notions' of power enhance or undermine student empowerment. The notion of the teacher's unilateral power as the basis for student self-assessment is critically examined against three contrasting notions of power in student self-assessment: sovereign power, epistemological power and disciplinary power.
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