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Measuring the magical: Leveraging assessment for emergent learning

Benjamin Bolden and Chris DeLuca

Emergent learning refers to the unplanned and unexpected learning that can occur through student engagement with complex curricular tasks. In this article, we explore expanded conceptions and practices of assessment that recognise and promote emergent forms of learning. We begin our argument by drawing on complexity thinking to define and position emergent learning within current curricular contexts. We then consider four different approaches to the assessment of emergent learning that work within criterion-referenced frameworks of assessment: (a) ignoring emergent learning; (b) informally celebrating emergent learning; (c) making space to formally recognise emergent learning; and (d) provoking emergent learning. Our article concludes with practical thinking about how we might reconfigure assessments to exploit curricular tasks and assessment processes in ways that simultaneously represent as well as promote emergent learning within classrooms.

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