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Accepted Paper:

The politics of measuring embodied skills: negotiating contextualization  
Karishma Desai (Rutgers University) Olivia Casey (Rutgers University)

Short abstract:

This paper attends to the politics of designing assessments to measure embodied dispositions in global educational development.

Long abstract:

Global development discourses champion the need for expanding infrastructures of measurement, monitoring, and evaluation. The measurement turn in education is evidenced by increasing pressures to collect and utilize large amounts of quantitative data to govern educational best practices. Simultaneously, the integration of psychosocial skills (such as resilience, grit, and emotional regulation) has emerged as a prominent focus within education. At the intersection of these two trends, noticeable demand has grown for the development of innovative new tools to assess how embodied psychosocial dispositions are taken up by young people.

This paper draws on ethnographic interviews with measurement and evaluation “experts,” observation of life skills measurement convenings, and analysis of life skills measurement tools. We argue that competing demands to both “standardize” and “contextualize” in the design and deployment of psychosocial assessment tools generate unruly anxieties and pleasures. Measurement experts within international development head offices highlight the difficulties of designing universalized, cost-effective, scalable tools that are adequately adapted and “translated” across multiple contexts. At the same time, our interlocutors working on measurement projects—particularly across the global South—often express excitement over the possibilities of placing contextualization at the heart of measurement tool design. Contextualized measurement emerges as a potential space of empowerment and even critical resistance. With an attention to the affective atmospheres of measurement, this paper examines the growing impetus to “contextualize” measurement tools, and the uneven and contested power dynamics that shape measurement design.

Traditional Open Panel P353
Corporeal quantification: numerical negotiations of health and the body
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -