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Contextualising higher education assessment task words with an ‘anti-glossary’ approach

Richards, Kendall; Pilcher, Nick


Kendall Richards


Key ‘generic’ assessment task words such as ‘discuss’ and ‘critically evaluate’ are integral to higher education assessment. Although sources such as study skills guides give generic decontextualised glossaries of these words, much research rightly argues for greater dialogue between students (particularly ‘non-traditional’ students) and lecturers to help students understand and use such words. This paper presents the results from ‘staged’ focus groups with lecturers and students from the UK and China that created a forum for such dialogue, where many of these words and their interpretations were talked about. Results show very different interpretations, informed by factors such as ‘language’, ‘culture’ and ‘subject’. We propose these factors be used in an ‘anti-glossary’ approach, which we describe here. This approach is not against glossaries per se, but counteracts the assumption that glossary definitions are explicit, and adopts a social constructivist contextualisation of the task words through teacher-led dialogue.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2013
Online Publication Date Jun 24, 2013
Publication Date May 28, 2014
Deposit Date Dec 18, 2015
Journal International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Print ISSN 0951-8398
Electronic ISSN 1366-5898
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 5
Pages 604-625
Keywords glossaries, ‘anti-glossary’, assessment task words, study skills, social constructivism
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