Assessing concept possession as an explicit and social practice

Journal of Philosophy of Education 51 (4):801-816 (2017)
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We focus on issues of learning assessment from the point of view of an investigation of philosophical elements in teaching. We contend that assessment of concept possession at school based on ordinary multiple-choice tests might be ineffective because it overlooks aspects of human rationality illuminated by Robert Brandom’s inferentialism––the view that conceptual content largely coincides with the inferential role of linguistic expressions used in public discourse. More particularly, we argue that multiple-choice tests at schools might fail to accurately assess the possession of a concept or the lack of it, for they only check the written outputs of the pupils who take them, without detecting the inferences actually endorsed or used by them. We suggest that school tests would acquire reliability if they enabled pupils to make the reasons of their answers or the inferences they use explicit, so as to contribute to what Brandom calls the game of giving and asking for reasons. We explore the possibility to put this suggestion into practice by deploying two-tier multiple-choice tests.

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Author Profiles

Luca Moretti
University of Eastern Piedmont
Alessia Marabini
Fondazione Francis Bacon, Italy

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References found in this work

Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong.Jerry A. Fodor - 1998 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Making it Explicit.Isaac Levi & Robert B. Brandom - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):145.
Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism.Robert Brandom - 2000 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Designation.Michael Devitt - 1981 - New York: Columbia University Press.
The concept of logical consequence.John Etchemendy - 1990 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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