Docility and dilemmas: mapping ‘performative evaluation’ and informal learning

Clapham, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-5066-134X, 2023. Docility and dilemmas: mapping ‘performative evaluation’ and informal learning. Journal of Educational Change. ISSN 1389-2843

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Educators working in museums, zoos and botanic gardens are increasingly required to demonstrate impact. These requirements position ‘performative evaluation’ as the dominant model, one which also acts as a political, non-neutral and managerial form of accountability. In contrast, ‘practice evaluation’ is intended to be democratic, dialogic and developmental. To explore this contrast, Foucault’s concept of the docile body is directed toward interviews with five educators from Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom who worked in museums, zoos or botanic gardens. In addition to their work mediating informal learning, all five also had responsibilities to provide evaluation reports to audiences including managers, trustees, funders, policy makers and politicians. Analysis of these interviews identified a set of dilemmas that the participants faced - dilemmas which illustrate how performative evaluation becomes a disciplinary mechanism which produces docile bodies. I argue that such evaluation is not only inappropriate for the context of informal learning, but undemocratic and non-dialogic. The paper concludes that a reset of performative evaluation from an accountability technology, to a developmental one - along a more sophisticated reading of how informal learning is defined - would not only generate rich evaluate data but mitigate against educators being rendered docile by the process.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Educational Change
Creators: Clapham, A.
Publisher: Springer (part of Springer Nature)
Date: 7 April 2023
ISSN: 1389-2843
Rights: © Crown 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Institute of Education
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 25 Apr 2023 08:03
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2023 08:03

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