Assessors in Australia LO22916

AM de Lange (
Wed, 20 Oct 1999 17:23:34 +0200

Replying to LO22896 --

Dear Organlearners,

Astrid McCormick <> writes:

>I was told there are assessor networks in Australia. I am in
>Melbourne and very interested to get to know the right people.
>Can anyone help?

Rick replied:
>[Host's Note: What are "assessors?" ..Rick]

Dear Astrid and Rick,

There are many kinds of assessors. The newest kind to South Africa are
"quality assessors" in the policy of Outcome Based Education (OBE) which
the government now officially follows. Outcomes are formulated in terms of
"objectives" which have to satisfy certain criteria.

Some people believe that by using the word "assessment" for "measurement"
they will avoid the problems of measurement.

On 1-11-99 prof W J Fraser of our Dept of Education and Training Studies
(tongue-in-the-cheek name) will lead a seminar with (the
tongue-in-the-cheek) title:
In SAQA en as.

SAQA = South African Quality Assessment

But listen to the sound when saying it -- it sounds like "in sak en as",
the Afrikaans for "in sackcloth and ashes".

A main problem with "quality measurement" (or assessment) in education is
that short term objectives, even when satisfying general criteria for
objectives, have little to do with higher qualities! A better description
for measurement with short term objectives would have been "quantity
measurement" (or assessment).

When two or more quantities have grown together to a critical value, they
will together bifurcate into a quality, for better or worse. Hence new
qualities take much longer time to emerge than for the individual
quantities to become completed. This "longer time" means that we should
associate qualities with a few medium-term goals rather than the
invariably many short-term objectives.

Objectives (eventhough many and short-term), goals (eventhough few and
medium-term) goals and a mission (eventhough one and long-term) are all
imperatives (commands) rather than declaratives (statements) or
interrogatives (questions). When thinking of the relationship between
these three kinds of commands, one has to think of "evolution of
commands". Few longer living goals evolve from many shorter living
objectives. One longest living mission evolves from few shorter living

Basing the quality of education on the number of objectives which have to
depict the outcomes of education is very much like the following claim,
assuming some correspondence between the "evolution of biological species"
and the "evolution of commands":

The quality of an ecosystem is reflected by counting
the number of bacteria species (<==> objectives) in it,
but ignoring the number of insect species (<==> goals)
or the human species (<==> mission) in it.

It is a false and foolish claim. Cutting education up by OBE into a
zillion objectives, but ignoring higher order imperatives, has
impoverished a whole generation of pupils in many educational districts
where this hype has struck. It is not the many short-term objectives which
made the education poor, but the lack of goals and a mission.

Why is it so difficult in OBE to formulate any goals or a mission?
Formulating goals require interdisciplinary thinking and formulating a
mission requires transdisciplinary thinking. However, OBE merely accepts
the status quo of many disciplines working in isolation. Furthermore,
concepts like complexity, chaos, bifurcations and higher orders are alien
to OBE. Just try to convince any OBE vendor that, for example, chaos
should be worked into objectives and see what reaction you will get.

Present OBE reminds me much of the Titanic heading straight towards the
iceberg, despite all the assessment being done. Why? OBE cannot ever
assess itself, despite all the clever academic claims made to the

Once we understand how objectives emerge into goals and goals into a
mission, it is like understanding how any organisation emerges into a LO
with strong leadership. LOs have the capacity and will to avoid icebergs,
unlike the Titanic and its captain.

Best wishes,


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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