I’ve had enough! Ask me anything, but not about Assessment, Formative Assessment, Summative Assessment, Assessment FOR Learning, Assessment OF learning, Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels and
Kolb’s learning styles, reports, curriculum, levels, attainment levels, reflective learning, targets, etc. etc. etc. everything done and dusted for my assignment!
Image: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels
Update: Great site about Assessment Click here and the link will open in a new window.
Whereas Summative Assessment involves measuring what has been learned in formal assessment, Formative Assessment in its widest sense refers to any process by which pupils are made aware of how they can make progress. The “Black Box” literature has been extremely influential around the world (see Selected References below). This was because it identified key strategies which had been shown to improve pupils’ learning. Whereas Summative Assessment requires careful record-keeping, much of the Formative Assessment process will not be recorded by the teacher, though it may be an aspect of Personal Learning Planning.
Assessment is for Learning and Formative Assessment
This paper focuses on themes arising from the Black Box research. However, the term “Formative Assessment” is used in a very wide sense. Many strategies can be said to help pupils understand where they are in the learning process, what progress they should aim for and how to make that progress. Other Toolkit papers go into such strategies in some depth; indeed, key elements of this paper (Questioning, Peer Assessment, and Feedback) are also dealt with in greater depth in other papers. Thus, it may be that studying the issue of Gender may be particularly helpful in some situations, in consideration of Formative Assessment strategies with boys, for example. Or perhaps an understanding of Emotional Intelligence, or Learning Styles or use of Praise or any of the other issues covered in Toolkit papers may be more fruitful for certain teachers.
This paper should be understood as an introduction to the topic of Formative Assessment, which has an absolutely central role in AifL developments. Other Toolkit papers should be read for suggestions as to how the principles of Formative Assessment can be extended in the widest sense.
For Formative Assessment to be most effective, there should be a whole-school approach to it, with colleagues sharing best practice and planning for improvement.
Points Arising from Research
Research indicates that an emphasis on formative assessment has the following effects:
Pupils learn more effectively
Some pupils feel more involved in the schooling process and become less disaffected
Teaching is focussed more effectively on the individual pupil
Positive effects may be particularly evident in the less able
Learning in the wider (not subject-specific) sense can be enhanced
Key Elements of Formative Assessment (Based on the Black Box research)
The task should take account of prior learning and should be clearly understood by the pupil
The way in which they will be judged should be clearly understood by pupils
Pupils should be aware of where they stand at the beginning of the task
They should have a clear understanding of the goal and how to achieve it
They should be given opportunities to set their own goals
They should have opportunities to make real decisions and choices
Models of good work should be provided for pupils
“Take-up time” should be allowed for the pupil to formulate a response
The pupil’s articulation of understanding is vital, even if it is incorrect
According to research, teachers very often answer their own questions – this should be avoided
Answers should not be taken just from those who put their hands up (we need to know why others haven’t put their hands up)
Pupils should be encouraged to ask questions
Opportunities should be given for collaborative attempts at answering questions
Pupils should be encouraged to think about the process of their learning (“metacognition”)
Tests at the end of a teaching block are too late to be used for formative assessment
Tests should be short and relatively frequent (new learning should be tested within a week). The formative use of summative tests has been recognised as a very powerful aspect of formative assessment.
Assessment should be geared to what the pupil is capable of
Questions should be carefully worded and should be seen to be relevant by pupils
Pairs and groups can explore questions and report back to others (eg “think-pair-share”)
The teacher needs to understand the abilities and needs of individuals in observation exercises
The teacher should adapt the teaching and learning process to react to what has been observed
It should be given promptly
It should give the pupil a sense of what has been achieved as well as improvement still to be achieved
Marks/grades are not helpful in a formative sense and may demotivate
Comments should be limited in number and should give specific advice as to how goals can be achieved
Oral feedback (including discussion) is the most effective type
Targets and progress should be discussed with pupils while they are working on the task
Pupils should be encouraged to reflect on the feedback and should be given time to work on improvements
Where appropriate, attempts should be made to involve parents in the learning triggered by feedback
Peer and Self-Assessment:
Pupils need good understanding of the criteria for success
Pupils should make judgements themselves about their progress towards targets
Low achievers and pupils with learning difficulties can benefit from self-monitoring
The discussion process in peer assessment gives valuable opportunity for pupils to talk about their developing understanding
Reflection and Discussion
How does your current practice relate to the advice from research?
Can you identify aspects of your current practice which show some of the principles at work?
Can you see ways in which you could incorporate some new aspects of the advice into your classroom work?
A great video on Teachers’ TV about discipline in school – according to the new government.