Continuous and pedagogically sound assessment : A new economy of power relations in Australian Law schools

Ball, Matthew James (2007) Continuous and pedagogically sound assessment : A new economy of power relations in Australian Law schools. In Curtis, B., Matthewman, S., & McIntosh, T. (Eds.) TASA 2007 Conference Proceedings: Public Sociologies: Lessons and Trans-Tasman Comparisons, The Sociological Association of Australia (TASA), Auckland, New Zealand.

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In recent decades, assessment practices within Australian law schools have moved from the overwhelming use of end-of-year closed-book examinations to an increase in the use of a wider range of techniques. This shift is often characterised as providing a ‘better’ learning environment for students, contributing more positively to their own ‘personal development’ within higher education, or, considered along the lines of critical legal thought, as ‘liberating’ them from the ‘conservatising’ and ‘indoctrinating’ effects of the power relations that operate in law schools. This paper seeks to render problematic such liberal-progressive narratives about these changes to law school assessment practices. It will do so by utilising the work of French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault on power, arguing that the current range of assessment techniques demonstrates a shift in the ‘economy’ of power relations within the law school. Rather than ‘liberating’ students from relations of power, these practices actually extend the power relations through which students are governed. This analysis is intended to inform legal education research and assessment practice by providing a far more nuanced conceptual framework than one that seeks to ‘free’ law students from these ‘repressive’ practices, or hopes to ‘objectively’ contribute to their ‘personal development’.

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ID Code: 45890
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: legal education, assessment, Foucault, power, pedagogy
ISBN: 978-2-86869-114-5
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Matthew James Ball
Deposited On: 12 Sep 2011 01:05
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2011 01:05

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