The assessment in meaningful contexts: quantitative vs. qualitative paradigm paradigm

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* The alternative

* Bibliography


This essay makes this certain practices that occur or may occur in the classroom when it aims to evaluate from quantitative and qualitative paradigms.

Different ways of viewing the assessment may lead in turn to the particular dynamics within the education system. On one side it exposes the perception that the author is of the evaluation according to their teaching, which leads to consider the generality of schools within a quantitative paradigm.

Intends to establish the scope of an assessment, as well as qualitatively, is expected to be built from the students, where they are protagonists of a process attempting a transition from heteronomy to autonomy. As a reference, meaningful learning, in terms of validating the knowledge that the student may bring into the classroom and make it important, trying to bring in these positions reflective of their realities.

Keywords: evaluation, qualitative and quantitative paradigm, learning, testing, alternative relationships.


Evaluation from a quantitative paradigm dominates the student leaving the school setting aside, even though it should be the center of it. Rote tests that are postulated objectives, quantitative value judgments by claiming numerical validity, teachers use assessment rigid object of power have left their mark on students and a culture of assessment review, as if it served its own purposes.

This is evident particularly in the Vain (2000:) called the hidden curriculum, and educational institutions are examples of evaluative practices show students and teachers bringing into play their cards. Throw the best at the right time is important to win, the highest stakes occur during periods in which they perform partial or final exams, which assumed a totalizing, assuming perhaps that the numerical result of a test gives a mean clear the student’s cognitive state, so one would think that it is indiscriminate use of grading and evaluating.

Well observed, a context-conflict situations, such as discussions, loud calls for attention, mood heated, friendly smiles looking consideration, phone calls from concerned parents, informal talks between the coordinator and teachers in relation to the written test results, decisions administrative assessment advice in order, made by subtracting ending educational value to the assessment

But who wins in this Perhaps the most lost. The student making the grade as a value so high that the critical discussion, enjoying the discovery, the ability to be surprised by what until then was a mystery and others that made school a place for enjoyment and the game, that character loses all socializing and fun.

In parallel, there is a concomitant effect when the evaluation becomes a form of punishment, when the subject is not approved, the two months or year and of course with the effect expressed in situations of conflict of personal, family and society. Thus, for the qualifying student becomes his being and nothing, a worldview school, from where they explain the reason for being in school.

Of course you lose the teacher, who uses the assessment for various educational purposes, and perhaps the least favored. Among other things, is used as a form of selection, ie with a qualifying order, the latter perhaps the one that generates a value, if you can tell, added, because the teacher ends up being an instrument of discrimination in the system, considering it necessary that some gain, the able and others lose, the less fortunate. Thus it is possible to draw a parallel with biology when Darwin proposed to use the concept of natural selection, hence the Child (2000) in his article on teacher evaluation evaluation policies and institutional management, referring to the assessment scores that “becomes even selection mechanism to justify the exclusion and denial of opportunities, being part of a” Social Darwinism “…”

Of course, also affects learning because a student who memorized and reproduced on a test, acquires a relationship with fundamentally utilitarian and instrumental knowledge. It is a relationship which ignores reflection, criticism and reconstruction of knowledge. Of course learning is meaningless, insofar as both the planning examination contents are predesigned and the student relates to the content in a mechanical way, which can be expressed in simulated responses, designed as the teacher expects, hence Vain (2000) citing Foucualt say … “Overlapping relations of power and knowledge in the examination assumed its full power”

In this vein, we have expressed in our educational system a paradigm that is characterized by placing a student evaluation forms. Ie corresponds to a way of seeing reality and to explain where the object is studied without considering it or who are related, as intended from the quantitative paradigm, which results in that assessment tools such as written test, acquire a positivist and starred in the evaluation process. In accordance Suarez (2000) says “In this paradigm is not the student present as subject but as a third person, as a timeless object of analysis and description by the assessor in relation to previously established parameters”This gives rise to reflection on the evaluation from the quantitative paradigm as valid in our institutions, with questions such as:

* Why evaluate,

* There are other ways to evaluate

* How to use the evaluation to change the way they express the relations between student-teacher, student and student-knowledge-context

* How to use the assessment to focus on the student view and respond to their needs for knowledge in a specific subject

* May be useful for evaluating the student to learn significantly

The alternative

However, it is possible to find other references that can lead to propose that there are other views of the assessment. Thus, the qualitative paradigm is an alternative to the quantitative difficulty of responding to urgent needs of the subjects tested, who can assume a new role, which allows a different relationship with the assessment, but also with the knowledge, being above fundamental.

With regard to the qualitative paradigm Suarez (2000) states:

“In this paradigm is aimed at evaluating the self employment in personal and social integration, focuses on mediation to transform both the individual and the culture is responsible for assessing knowledge with social and contextual validity, including the ability to restructure learning achieved so that learning is not only playing but expansion and consolidation of structures ”

That is the significance to be achieved through the assessment, has to do with the possibility of assessing the individual, as indicated by Smith (2000), when he says that “The assessment of the meaning of the action of a person implies the valuation the background of the action, made up for their interests and motives, for one part, and secondly, the assessment of the capacities, skills, dispositions and attitudes to knowledge and learning ”

This leads us to think about how important it can be for a student to acquire the status of being unique and unrepeatable, in a system that makes you a cog in the machinery of the system, which plays equals. It can therefore make significant any subject, for example, from which the author works daily in the classroom, chemistry. This discipline of knowledge, historically has had a positivist character, whether it is considered as part of the so-called exact sciences, and from the concerns of the teachers in charge of this course work in making this a form of transmission formulas, truths Absolute and other ways of understanding science as something already done. But finding an alternative to the above is cause for reflection, using for this purpose that may raise questions on the student interest grounds from which to propose a situated learning:

* Why over-consumption of certain packaged products can cause pollution in school

* What is the amount of calories in foods that form the diet of college students and that recommendations should continue to improve it

* Why buy a different relationship with plastic packaging, from the neighborhood environment

The above are questions that have significant value and seek to problematize their environment and chemistry can try to break the methodological paradigms that go hand in hand with the evaluative. This formative assessment becomes a necessity, as a way of understanding what happens during the course of the teaching-learning process to take remedial decisions and / or preventive action that allows the teacher feedback and student.

So to understand what happens in a teaching-learning process, is necessary to use alternative forms of assessment, in that search for information according to the particular discipline in which you try to be functional, in this case the chemical, about Diaz B. and R. Hernandez

(2002) say:

… For each domain of knowledge (mathematics, natural and social sciences etc) you want to assess, identify a number of complex skills, strategies, modes of reasoning and discourse and other forms of production and use of meanings, obviously can not be simplified or reduced to simple questions exercises such as those included in the common examinations. (Emphasis added)

These authors extend the above giving a key to this proposal, when, quoting Herman, Aschbacher and Winters (1992) say that authentic assessment is characterized by: Demand that learners actively solve complex and authentic as they use their prior knowledge , learning new and relevant skills to solve real problems.

So the question arises, how to assess learning processes It can be for this valuable, alternate formal evaluation techniques (written tests, concept maps, performance evaluations), with the so-called informal (field notes, anecdotal records and checklists) and seminformales (exercises in class, homework, portfolio assessment). These assessment activities should be made taking into account not only student learning but also teaching activities carried out by the teacher and their relationship to such learning.

Of course the teacher requires some skills to be learned, while constructing alternative ways to quantitative evaluation, which should provide a role of teacher-researcher to reflect on their teaching.

In short, the alternative qualitatively evaluates, from a constructivist model. For this relevant quote Diaz B. and R. Hernandez (2002), who referring to this form to take the assessment indicate that:

“It’s about putting in the first place pedagogical decisions to promote a truly adaptive instruction that addresses student diversity, to promote (not hinder the evaluation as in traditional empiricist descent) learning meaningful and functional value for students, in addressing the issue of regulation of teaching and learning and encourage transfer of evaluative heterorregulacion towards self-regulation of students in learning ”

In conclusion one could say that an assessment in meaningful contexts, infers that the changes to be made must be given in the entire proposal that the teacher brings to the classroom, based on thinking of the student as a leading man for a staging which becomes important its discursive acts, questioning, creative, on those that are affected to simulate what others want to see.

Finally, the presence in the evaluation of two assessment paradigms, shows profound differences, but also the fundamentals of each other, say a lot about the concept we have of education. Transmission is privileged or understanding, rigid standards of behavior or creative ways of dealing with reality, hence the way the teacher assumes either model evidence its educational, training and if you like politics.


M. ALVAREZ Juan Manuel. Assess to learn, to examine to exclude. Madrid: Morata, 2000

DIAZ B. and R. HERNANDEZ Teaching strategies for meaningful learning. A constructivist interpretation. Mc Graw Hill. Mexico, D.F, 2002.

CHILD, L. teacher assessment in the evaluation policies and institutional management. In: Educational Options No. 31. Universidad Distrital Francisco Jose de Caldas. Bogota, 2005.

R. SUAREZ Peter Alexander and B. LATORRE, Helena. School evaluation and mediation: sociocritic approach. Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia UPTC, National Education Award. Santafe de Bogota, 2000

VAIN, P. EVALUATION OF COLLEGE TEACHING. A complex problem. Editorial Universidad de Misiones. Buenos Aires. 1998.


About author:

Javier Peralta Castiblanco

Born in Bogota, Colombia.

Degree in Chemistry, University Distrital Francisco Jose de Caldas, with specialization in Environmental Management Education And this same university. At the time Master of Education by the National Pedagogical University in Bogota. Professor of chemistry at secondary school Conde Hispanoamericano Ans’urez in this city.

Colombia, Bogota, December 21, 2007.