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Incomprehensible? Inexpressible? Inconceivable? The very idea of inter-subject comparability

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If awarding bodies are to claim that standards are comparable, across examinations in different subject areas, then it seems reasonable to ask the sense in which this is supposed to be true. However, since the introduction of techniques for monitoring inter-subject comparability, during the early 1970s, their underlying principles have failed to be articulated clearly, consistently and coherently. Indeed, some researchers have claimed that the very idea of inter-subject comparability is inconceivable. This seminar will trace the history of investigations into inter-subject comparability in England, aiming to shed light on implicit and, occasionally, explicit statements of principle. It will analyse the emergence of early implicit conceptions and will illustrate how potential alternative conceptions have largely remained unrecognised, despite their potential utility.

This talk is part of the Perspectives from Cambridge Assessment series.

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