I am still reading through it but thought to whet people's appetites with quotes from their introduction:
"There are two equally important observations that emanate from our work on learning and assessment at the Palo Alto Research Center and the Institute for Research on Learning:
· assessment is a normal, ubiquitous part of all social interaction;
· formal assessment methods as used in organizations frequently lead to undesirable results.
These observations are not of a kind. They are like dinosaurs and humans, both bipedal but otherwise occupying rather distinct life spheres. Nevertheless, we might learn something by considering them together. It may just be the case that part of the problem with assessment is precisely that the first observation has not been taken seriously. In this paper we will talk about both and attempt to draw out their importance for rethinking assessment in workplaces and schools. The central proposition here is that, in addition to the standard tests and performance measurements that are routinely administered in our institutions, there are other important forms of assessment that are not usually recognized. These can give us valuable insights and provide leverage for restructuring the way assessment systems are designed.
What emerges out of our work is a framework that complements and amplifies recent thinking around measurement practice, puts formal assessment in perspective and recognizes it as only one piece (albeit a significant one) of the varieties of judgments about performance that play a crucial role in schools, work places, and everyday life.
Throughout the paper we use the general term "assessment" to comprehensively refer to the totality of informal and formal judgments, evaluations, measurements, tests, surveys and metrics that play a role in productive social interaction. We start our discussion with a characterization of two kinds of assessments that are produced on-the-fly, as natural parts of mundane social activities by individuals and groups: inherent assessments and discursive assessments. We then contrast these with formal, standardized measurements used in organizations, which we call documentary assessments. We will show how each of these three assessment types plays a distinct role in articulating the work of individuals and groups on various levels. We will also show how formal, documentary assessments regularly produce dysfunctional behavioral effects because they are disconnected or in opposition to the intrinsic requirements of everyday work practices. In a final section we will suggest implications for further research in the organizational practice of assessments and provide recommendations to managers for the improvement of assessment practice."