When I read ‘the University of Sydney is trialling the assessment of student qualities including inventiveness, cultural competence and influence’ I hear massive alarm bells.

There used to be—in the eighties—exams in history and other humanities subjects that tested cultural competence, ‘general knowledge’ tests of contextual stuff that hadn’t been taught, but that educated people would be expected to know. It was a pure class filter

Exams are arbitrary, terrible at assessing competence, and reward behaviour that has nothing to do with learning (cf. cramming). But the solution to doing away with exams isn't returning to culture tests that punish e.g. first generation uni students, cultural minorities, and people who didn't go to private schools

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Nor is it about creating perfect or objective tests—purely competency-based assessment is gamed too, sometimes grossly, if the stakes are high. It's why people bribe driving assessors! The problem is less about testing regimes than that our higher education system is a high-stakes job ticket exercise

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@liamvhogan We all know that the true indicator of having understood a complex topic is being able to recite Don Bradman's test batting average.

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