Evaluation for Transformation
Over the two last decades, various social changes brought on by immigration, globalization, family evolution and the rapid rise in ICT, not to mention the growth and mass phenomenon occurring in education, have had a major impact on education systems (Bourdoncle, 1991, 1993; Paquay et al, 2001). We have witnessed a significant educational reorganization as school systems refocused their energy on competencies – a phenomenon that is occurring on an international scale. In Que¬bec, the reform implemented by the ministère de l'Éducation is part of the same movement, prioritizes an educational reorientation based on the development of competencies in students (Gouvernement du Québec, 2001, 2002). This major trend (Lessard, 2000), linked to the democratization of teaching, calls for different practices on the part of players in the educational environment and applies equally to post-secondary teaching. In fact, the democratization of teaching and particularly the increase in heterogeneous student groups that followed have driven home the importance for teachers to adopt pedagogical practices better suited to reach these new student groups. In this respect, various authors (Develay, 1996; Espinosa, 2003; Rey, 1999) have shown that many students now arrive at school without necessarily having mastered the codes and implicit standards relating to the culture and success at school – a situation that can often hinder their academic advancement. As observed for about two decades now in compulsory education, this transformation of the student body is occurring at all teaching levels including college, where constraints like a greater number of students per class, the increasing heterogeneity of groups, budget cuts and a lack of services are now the order of the day (Langevin and Bureau, 2000). Taking into account that this situation has considerably modified teaching conditions, the teaching paradigm seems to be shifting to one centered on learning, where differentiated instruction may be considered a viable alternative. For authors interested in differentiated instruction, including Meirieu and Perrenoud, the core concept is based on providing students with as many problem situations as possible. These situations teach students how to mobilize the resources they need to overcome the challenges encountered. They must also be complex so students go beyond a simple review of knowledge they have already acquired. Training situations of this nature harmonize nicely with a competency-based approach because they confront students with epistemological problems, calling on knowledge and competencies that are constructed on the road to project realization or problem resolution.
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