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The art and dilemmas of assessment: European perspectives on the assessment of practitioner learning and development through Master's‐level programmes in public management

John W. Raine (University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Annie Rubienska (University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 30 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on issues of assessment in leadership and management programmes for mid career public managers. Drawing on experiences of such programmes from across Europe, the paper examines the potential conflict between traditional perspectives on academic study, with the typically‐associated focus on testing what has been learned, and the expectations and needs for competence and relevance for the work‐place.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper aruges that two key distinctions are crucial – on the one hand, between formative and summative assessment (i.e. between assessment and feedback during a programme to help participants learn, as opposed to assessment at the end of a programme to judge and determine if they have met the grade), and on the other, between participant‐centred and institution‐centred approaches (i.e. between commitment to collaborating with individual participants to ensure that their personal learning and development objectives are met, and a more traditional perspective reflecting a culture of “the institution knows best” and of concern to protect academic standards).

Findings

From the evidence gathered the conclusion is reached that, despite the claims made about the developmental objectives of such programmes, mostly, the assessment processes tend to accord with traditional academic perspectives, and give only limited weight to learning and skills for the workplace.

Originality/value

The paper argues for more emphasis on formative assessment and participant‐centredness and also for greater clarity about purposes in such management programmes. It advocates more imaginative and innovative learning and development approaches to mirror better the diverse realities and requirements of a public service organisational context.

Keywords

Citation

Raine, J.W. and Rubienska, A. (2008), "The art and dilemmas of assessment: European perspectives on the assessment of practitioner learning and development through Master's‐level programmes in public management", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 417-437. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513550810880278

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited