The Neglected Situation: Assessment Performance and Interaction in Context

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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
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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