Reassessing assessment: What can post stroke aphasia assessment learn from research on assessment in education?
Taylor & Francis
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Background: Assessment is an essential part of aphasia management. There are many tools available for aphasia assessment, but relatively scant attention has been paid to how speech pathologists carry out their assessment sessions, or how these sessions are experienced by people with aphasia and their families. The evidence that is available suggests that people with aphasia do not always understand the purposes of the assessments they undertake or receive much useful feedback on their performance. Connections between adult learning and aphasia therapy are being made more explicit, such as through the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia, but the potential for a relationship between adult learning and aphasia assessment has not yet been fully recognised. Aims: This paper aims to stimulate thinking to improve current aphasia assessment practices. It uses an adult learning lens and explores theoretical approaches underpinning assessment in adult education contexts. Main Contribution: In this commentary paper, we summarise the current, dominant practices around aphasia assessment and then briefly review evidence-based recommended practice for assessment in higher and professional education. We explore useful parallels between the two fields and discuss how we might reassess assessment in aphasia rehabilitation. Conclusions: Aphasia assessments have greater potential to be therapeutic than we currently assume. Ideas from adult education are useful to challenge clinicians to reconsider aspects of their practice. Assessments can be a powerful motivator for learning and engagement in therapy. Through a greater focus on formative and sustainable assessment, and changed feedback practices, there are opportunities to capitalise more fully on the potential for learning during these sessions. Attention to the rich development of ideas about assessment in education is a useful way to challenge our assumptions and perhaps prepare our clients with aphasia for a more productive and sustainable learning journey to support their recovery.