A Virtual Special Issue
In the broad field of educational research, there is a common view that education consists of three domains: curriculum, i.e. the content of what is taught, such as the disciplines of knowledge and intellectual skills; pedagogy, i.e. the processes of teaching and learning, such as the role and nature of classroom interaction; assessment, i.e. the methods of evidencing that the learning has occurred, including public examinations. In research about religious education, there has been considerable attention to curriculum, notably in defining the religion(s) and skills to be learnt, and some attention to pedagogy, for example in terms of classroom talk and dialogue; over the years assessment has received somewhat less attention, but is increasingly in the spotlight. This virtual special edition – the first ever in British Journal of Religious Education - takes stock of the past by presenting some of the research and scholarship on assessment, notably including examinations, which has previously been published in this journal (or its antecedent publications) from the 1950s onwards.
This is the first paper to tackle the issue of fully and directly, reviewing both examinations and other forms of assessment.
- H.A. Guy B.A.B.D.
This short paper from 1960s argues that examinations were leading to a lack of challenge in the curriculum, suggesting that teachers entered their pupils for papers requiring factual recall, not more complex intellectual tasks.
- J.G. Harris
This 1970s paper gathers data from groups of teachers to show how they disliked the examination boards’ Christian-centric, Bible-focused exam syllabus, wanting a more evaluative approach.
- John Elliott
This 1980s paper applies Bloom’s taxonomy in a very meticulous way to (Biblical) religious education, showing how different types of reasoning were being explored at the time – and may be of relevance for those currently seeking to develop their own taxonomies of tasks.
This paper is a reflection of the position of RE after the 1988 Education Act, and the National Curriculum. It set the agenda for subsequent developments.
- John Rudge
A widely cited paper which addresses similar issues as Rudge’s, but also includes consideration of assessment for learning in religious education.
This is a critique of the then contemporary policy – the recent Non-statutory Framework – picking up issues from Rudge’s and Blaylock’s papers. It also addresses wider curriculum issues.
This paper considers whether the higher attainment of pupils in faith schools explained by a higher performance in RE GCSE, or whether they do better in other subjects, and reflects the strategic importance of examination results of schools.
Thanissaro presents the case for a more radical approach to assessment combining psychological measurement and also classroom assessment, in arguing against a ‘banking model’.
- Phra Nicholas Thanissaro
This paper is the only piece of research in the journal on assessment and examination from outside the UK, presenting pupils’ views of the value of accreditation within their attitudes to RE, and shows how many of the issues in the previous papers may be relevant in other national models of the subject.
- Boris Jokić & Linda Hargreavesb