The neglected situation: Assessment performance and interaction in context

Bryan Maddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Informed by Goffman’s influential essay on ‘The neglected situation’ this paper examines the contextual and interactive dimensions of performance in large-scale educational assessments. The paper applies Goffman’s participation framework and associated theory in linguistic anthropology to examine how testing situations are framed and enacted as social occasions. It considers assessment as a shared focus of social activity, located in time and space, involving an assemblage of artefacts and actors. The paper presents ethnographic examples of adult literacy and numeracy assessment in Mongolia. The first part provides ethnographic description of a testing situation. The second part looks in detail at how linguistic interaction influences assessment performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-443
Number of pages17
JournalAssessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Goffman
  • ethnography
  • assessment
  • nteraction
  • talk
  • Mongolia

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