In the Ministry’s publication, Narrative Assessment, the following statements are made about this form of assessment: “Narrative assessment recounts learning events within and beyond school settings, going further than simply describing. It tells the story of learning by capturing the context, the people, the places, and the things of relevance. It identifies the ways in which learning has been noticed, recognised, and responded to (Cowie and Bell, 1999).
Narrative assessment is bound and defined by the time over which learning is noticed by the narrator. Successive narrative assessments may record learning that emerges over time, possibly over days or months (Hatherly and Sands, 2002), taking note of the ways that learning strengthens over time.
Narrative assessment needs to reflect the values, cultures, and ways of being and learning of students and their families or whānau. Narrative assessment needs to be structured, ordered, and presented to be accessible, relevant, and engaging to the learners, family and whānau, and others who contribute to learning and teaching.
Unlike traditional assessment methods, narrative assessment makes personal perspectives or interpretations visible and the voice of the storyteller obvious rather than hidden. Narrative assessment may also include the perspectives or voices of the student and his or her family or whānau.
Narrative assessment is respectful of learners and supports the construction of learner identities as capable, competent, able, included, and valued.
Narrative assessment contributes towards closing the gaps between learners and teachers (strengthening power with and power for relationships). It acknowledges uncertainties in the teaching and learning processes.”
Jean Clandinin and Michael Connelly (2000) believe narrative is “the best way of representing and understanding experience” (page 18), particularly in terms of education and educational study. According to Clandinin and Connelly, narrative in this context is:
‘a collaboration between researcher and participants, over time, in a place or series of places, and in social interaction with milieus. An inquirer enters this matrix in the midst and progresses in this spirit, concluding the inquiry still in the midst of living and telling, reliving and retelling, the stories of the experiences that make up people’s lives, both individual and social. Simply stated … narrative inquiry is stories lived and told.’
Although Clandinin and Connelly refer to narrative inquiry for the purpose of educational research, their ideas are highly relevant to narrative in the context of assessment for learning. According to Peter Lamarque (1990):
‘Narration of any kind involves the recounting and shaping of events. Description is not enough. A mere catalogue of descriptive sentences does not make a narrative. For one thing, there must be events described, not just things.’
Lamarque identifies four features common to all types of narrative: time, structure, voice, and point of view.” p37 Narrative Assessment.
Narrative assessment and the narrator:
“The narrator is able to include their reactions and feelings about the learning they are recognising. Those experienced in using narrative also enjoy being able to use their own words and ideas to capture learning in context – from inside the real spaces in which we notice, recognise, and respond to learning. Narrative assessments present a rich qualitative and interpretive picture of learning-in-action. They engage those involved in striving to understand the learning taking place and its complexities through analysis, interpretation, and discussion (Drummond, 1993). More often than not, narrative assessments lead those involved to respond in some way to the insights of the learner or learners, further informing and supporting the learning and teaching process.” p38 Narrative Assessment