Sharon Murphy May 6, 2012

Ethically Based Literacy Assessment Within a New Literacy Framework

Dr. Sharon Murphy
York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

May 6, 2012, 7:00 p.m. EDT/USA
(Convert to local time)

GSU Student Hosts: Ryan Boylan and Nicole Dukes

Dr. Sharon Murphy is a Professor in the Faculty of Education, York University. She began her career in education as an elementary school special education teacher in Newfoundland and Labrador. She later went on to become an educational consultant for several years with the Newfoundland Government’s Learning Center where her work focused exclusively on educational assessment. She also worked as a consultant with the Government of Newfoundland’s Department of Education and developed a handbook for teachers of children experiencing difficulties in reading and writing.

In this web seminar, Dr. Murphy will discuss how assessment, ethics, and conceptualizations of literacy are brought into dialogue.  Specifically,  a broad-based view of assessment is offered which is based on values, judgment and design. This view of assessment is coupled with an ethical stance towards the conduct of assessment which draws from feminist philosophy and is anchored in the conceptualization of epistemic responsibility—of knowing well and doing well with what we know. This framework is used to consider two very different kinds of assessment practices—those embedded within examples of New Literacy Studies and those embedded within the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).  For New Literacy Studies examples, the question framing the discussion is whether assessment is possible within the New Literacy Studies perspective.  For the PISA examples, which offer the ultimate in assessment that neutralizes context, the discussion is framed around what kind of knowing is created by PISA and the ethicality of making decisions based on that knowing.

Sharon Murphy’s research interests include assessment and literacy learning. Her current research involves the development of an approach to assessment that is motivated by ethical and epistemological considerations. She has co-authored or co-edited books on literacy education (Literacy education through Language Arts), arts education (Telling pieces: Art as literacy in middle grade classes), literacy assessment (Fragile evidence: A critique of reading assessment), and curricular materials in literacy (Report card on basal readers), and has written numerous articles in academic and professional journals and books. She has also held administrative appointments as Director of the Graduate Program in Education and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at York University.

Selected Publications:

  • Murphy, S. (In press). Towards knowing well and doing well: Assessment in early childhood education. In N. Hall, J Larson, & J. Marsh (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood literacy (2nd ed.).  London: Sage.
  • Murphy, S. (2012). Reclaiming pleasure in the teaching of reading. Language Arts, 89(5), 318-328.
  • Murphy, S. (2010) The pull of PISA: Uncertainty, influence, and ignorance Interamerican Journal of Education for Democracy, 3(1), 28-44.
  • Murphy, S. (2009) Knowing and doing well in the creation and interpretation of reading assessments: Towards epistemic responsibility. In P. Anders (Eds.) Defying convention, inventing the future in literacy research and practice: A tribute to Ken and Yetta Goodman (pp. 331-339). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum
  • Murphy, S. (2009) Matters of goodness: Knowing well and doing well in the assessment of critical thinking.  In J. Sobocan & L. Groarke (Eds.) Critical thinking education and assessment: Can higher order thinking be tested? (pp. 331-339). London, ON: Althouse Press
  • Murphy, S. (2006) Assessment allegories: A reflective essayLanguage and Literacy, 8(1).
  • Murphy, S. (2003).  Literacy assessment and the politics of identities.  In J. Soler, J. Wearmouth, & G. Reid (Eds.), Contextualising difficulties in literacy development: Exploring politics, culture, ethnicity and ethics (pp. 87-101).  London: Open University Press.
  • Murphy, S. (2003).  Finding literacy: A review of the research on literacy assessment in early childhood education.  In N. Hall, J Larson, & J. Marsh (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood literacy (pp. 369-378).  London: Sage.
  • Murphy S, Dudley-Marling C, National Council of Teachers of English U. Literacy Through “Language Arts”: Teaching And Learning In Context [e-book]. 2003. Available from: ERIC, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 2, 2012.

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