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Abstract

In recent years, interest in the practices associated with digital media has led to concern over the ‘digital divide’ and subsequently the assessment of digital literacies. Assessment matters not only because of accountability but also washback (Alderson & Wall, 1993).  Despite this, research into the assessment of digital literacies has been rare. My study aims to fill this critical gap and provide an understanding of how assessment practices used to assess digital literacies develop. In presenting a ‘telling case’ (Mitchell, 1984), I hope to offer practitioners who are working to establish and maintain such practices some useful ideas. In addition, I hope to make methodological and theoretical contributions to assessment research.

My case study aims to examine the assessment of digital literacies, specifically at a classroom level through the lens of social practice theory. Digital literacies are accordingly viewed as socially situated practices in the tradition of New Literacy Studies (Street, 1984), and assessment practices as social practices as defined by Reckwitz (2002). I am guided by these research questions:
  1. What were the digitally-mediated assessment practices of two English Language classes in a Singapore secondary school, in terms of elements (materials, competence and meaning) and links (Shove, Pantzar & Watson, 2012)?
  2. How did the teachers and learners of these classes perceive these practices?
  3. What enabled and constrained these practices, within the context of these classes?
My site is a secondary school in Singapore. Working from an ethnographic perspective, my methods include teacher interviews, participant observation of lessons, and analysis of artefacts (assessment tasks and students' work). I use thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006) and Shove, Pantzar and Watson’s social practice framework (2012) in my analysis of the data.