Book Review of David Boud, Rola Ajjawi, Phillip Dawson and Joanna Tai (Eds.) (2018) Developing Evaluative Judgement in Higher Education

  • Charlie Smith LJMU
Keywords: assessment


The context that this book sets itself within is portrayed as one of increasing uncertainty.  It presents a future in which graduates must develop skills for lifelong learning, adaptation and autonomy.  It is argued that, contrarily, traditional assessment methods in higher education foster dependency, with teachers as experts – sole arbiters of judgements about the quality of work – curtailing key skills demanded by a constantly changing employment landscape.


The editors’ definition of evaluative judgement, taken from Tai et al. (2018: 471), is “the capability to make decisions about the quality of work of self and others.”  There are three particularly notable keywords at work here.  First, that evaluative judgement is a capability, a skill, and not an activity; second, that it concerns quality – distinguishing the good from the less good with reference to a standard; and third, that it is applied to work, and not the self.  At its core, this is an expansion of the established ambition in higher education for engaging students as active agents in their learning, through facilitating opportunities for them to participate in making and articulating judgements over their own work and that of others.  Evaluative judgement is an empowerment of students to become active participants in understanding quality and developing connoisseurship regarding their work and their learning, thereby demystifying and potentially democratising teachers’ assessment of their work – a laudable aim in itself.

[Review continues]