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This paper seeks to spark a conversation as it concerns dialogue as an assessment tool and the processes which may be needed to support it. While its context is specific, focused on the use of dialogic assessment in HEA Fellowship schemes, it is suggested that the metaphor which emerged from a collective autoethnographic study has the potential to be of value more widely. Data from this study indicated that dialogic assessment might be likened to a canoe trip which requires careful planning and skillful execution. The five phases identified - designing the vessel, getting aboard, settling in/ settling down, navigating the space and forward-wash – are overviewed with the intention of provoking discussion in the academic practice community, drawing into the conversation individuals who are concerned with assessment for learning generally, and those who have particular interest in the potential of dialogic assessment which culminates in a summative judgement. As such it adds to the literature focused on assessment in higher education by drawing to the fore the conditions in which dialogic approaches can thrive for the individual being assessed, while also facilitating reciprocal learning.
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