Assessing concept possession as an explicit and social practice

Abstract
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 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 tests at schools might fail to accurately assess the possession of a concept or the lack of it, for they only check the verbal outputs of the pupils who take them, without detecting the inferences actually endorsed or used by them. As a remedy, we suggest that multiple-choice tests should be either used in contexts that suitably restrain the reasoning of pupils, or modified to enable 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.
Keywords Inferentialism  concept possession  concept mastery  material inference  non-monotonic inference  school tests  Brandom
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