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Epistemic ascent and curriculum design

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Academic subjects are generally assumed to be composed of propositional rather than practical knowledge. One of the insights of Paul Hirst was, however, that they are also practices with procedures for validating and establishing truths. They are also constituted by a closely connected conceptual structure. Mastering this structure involves inferential ability, just as the ability to validate and establish truths demands a variety of forms of practical ability. This talk looks at the relationship between subject knowledge, inferential ability and ability to validate and establish truths in the perspective of an ascent from novice to expert within a subject area. It is argued that a key feature of good curriculum design is the ability to manage the different types of knowledge in a sequence that matches, not just the needs of the subject, but also that of the student in such a way that the different kinds of subject knowledge are introduced in a way such that the development of expertise is not compromised. Examples of problems with curriculum design are discussed.

This talk is part of the Current Issues in Assessment series.

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