Evaluation Culture in Organizational Change of Schooling

  • The authors:
    Kari Kantasalmi,
    Jarkko Hautamäki
  • Issue: July 24-26th, 2019
  • Pages: 13-19
  • URL: http://conference-ifl.rudn.ru/13-19/
  • DOI:

Abstract. Niklas Luhmann speaks for communications as constitutive for social systems, and operationalizes culture as variety of systemic selfdescriptions, conditioned by the structural embedding of the observing system. Viewing social systems as closed in terms of their regulation and
operations, which are communications and nothing else, makes it possible to define limits for educational interactions. Communication, however, requires unity of three selections: information, utterance and understanding. Societal communication of education and schooling observes problems and available functional resolutions in reference to the notion of ´life course’. To enable various system references to be distinguished, Luhmann called the 1) observation of the overall system = function, 2) the observation of other systems = performance, and 3) the self-observation of a system = reflection. Thus, the three logical possibilities for observing education in particular are: (1) The system observes its societal function in forming human minds and the related code of communication. The code of transmittable/not transmittable of contents of education and schooling has led to specification in terms of credentialing schooling, coded (graded examinations) to communicate and observe in terms of better/worse. (2) The performances (e.g., hard and soft skills) are observed in relation to other subsystems or in relation to changes of students’ minds (development). (3) The reflection uses reflection theory, i.e. pedagogical theorizing, and special semantics of process reflexivity to deal with pedagogical interactions as well as with making organizational decisions on education and schooling.
Our claim is that the evaluation culture of education and schooling deals with intensification of self-descriptions and external descriptions. The latter means that educational communication’s performance, in formative or summative terms, is also observed and described by other subsystems (e.g. politics, law, economy, science, religion), and by the external environment of the learning minds. Expanding evaluation establishment offers structural couplings between education system and other function systems, psychic system included. We argue for a fruitful systems theoretical way to ging evaluation culture, in the framework of studies
of organizational changes of schooling. Firstly, we describe the developments in educational evaluation establishment in Finland. This was a switch from inspection culture to evaluation culture. Introducing a national model for curricular and thematic assessments was to ensure equality in different parts of the country. In the Finnish evaluation framework (1999), the sample-based assessment has been an essential component. European Union common indicators, including learning to learn as a part of educational attainments, was taken into account. Secondly, we focus on information offered by educational credentials, and concerns of their comparability in the wave of PISA, Key Competencies and 21st Century Skills discussion. The empirical issue considers assessing these as added-value measures in relation to the information offered in discipline based graded credentials. The latter are essential information in transitions within educational systems. In form of structural couplings, they also perform as information offer for interpretation of other sub-systems. To increase nationwide trust on such information, Finnish evaluation establishment has found international assessments like PISA, as well as EU indicators, useful. Learning to learn is presently a part of the transversal competencies of the Finnish National Core Curriculum for Basic Education as well as one of the Key Competencies of EU. Thirdly, we analyze some practical outcomes of extended assessment and expanded basis of evaluation in Finland. Finally, we consider Luhmannian working model’s suggestion that general-domain competences like ‘learning to learn’ are expressions of the substituting the historically preceding notion of general education (e.g. Bildung in German) by novel “contingency formula” which emphasizes capability of knowing (i.e., competencies) instead of pre-structured knowledge contents.

Keywords: Systems theory, education system, evaluation culture, learning to learn, information of credentials

Kari Kantasalmi¹, Jarkko Hautamäki²
¹University of Helsinki, Centre for Educational Assessment (CEA),
Helsinki, Finland, e-mail: kari.kantasalmi@helsinki.fi
²University of Helsinki, Centre for Educational Assessment (CEA),
Helsinki, Finland, e-mail: jarkko.hautamaki@helsinki.fi
ORCID ID: A-1193-2014

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