Global Influences on Student Learning

23 May 2014

Professor Bronwen Cowie

Focus on student learning: From left: Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones, Faculty of Education Dean Professor Roger Moltzen, Professor Bronwen Cowie and Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford at Professor Cowie's inaugural lecture.

What counts as evidence of student success, for whom and for what goal – are questions all educators need to be asking in this current climate, states University of Waikato Education Professor Bronwen Cowie.

At her recent inaugural lecture in May, Prof. Cowie discussed the influence of powerful global testing regimes and its impact on how we locally assess student learning.  

Decline in NZ international ranking

Prof. Cowie cited the example of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the decline of NZ’s international ranking relative to other countries. Some commentators have expressed concern at this trend while others are querying the validity and influence of PISA, said Prof. Cowie. “It is a concern that government responses to such results can be to narrow the curriculum and methods used to generate evidence of learning”.

Prof. Cowie notes that NZ educators have worked hard to ensure what they teach and assess considers the local cultural context and knowledge of the learner. The ‘globalisation of curriculum’ based on economic driven forces, threatens such initiatives.

Professor Cowie is the Director of the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research based in the Faculty of Education.

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