Large programme; modular approaches; marker variation, late feedback; dependency on tutors
Assessment for learning
Assessment for Learning
Elements, Theory, Strategies
Durban University of Technology
Dr Tansy Jessop
Head of L&T @ Winchester
DUT Assessment Symposium
8 October 2014
Think of a time when you felt you really had a
powerful learning experience about something
What were the circumstances?
Who? What? When? Why?
Turn to the person next to you and tell them about it.
TESTA Case Study X: what’s going on?
Mainly full-time lecturers
Plenty of varieties of assessment, no exams
Reasonable amount of formative assessment (14 x)
33 summative assessments
Masses of written feedback on assignments (15,000 words)
Learning outcomes and criteria clearly specified
….looks like a ‘model’ assessment environment
Don’t put in a lot of effort and distribute their effort across few topics
Don’t think there is a lot of feedback or that it very useful, and don’t
make use of it
Don’t think it is at all clear what the goals and standards are
Case Study Y: what’s going on?
35 summative assessments
No formative assessment specified in documents
Learning outcomes and criteria wordy and woolly
Marking by connoisseurship, often tacit, professional judgements
Teaching staff mainly part-time and hourly paid
….looks like a problematic assessment environment
Put in a lot of effort and distribute their effort across topics
Have a very clear idea of goals and standards
Are able to evaluate their work and have a good idea of how to
‘close the gap’
Expert to novice
Planned & ‘delivered’
Feedback by experts
Feedback to novices
Emphasis on measuring
Metaphor - machine
Social constructivist model
Messy and process-oriented
Emphasis on learning
Metaphor - the journey
Three concepts underlying AFL
Sambell, K, McDowell, L. &
Montgomery, C. (2013) Assessment
for Learning in Higher Education.
London. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-
AFL and formative assessment – the
AFL is a broader term
But AFL has lots of different schools of thought
Formative is central to AFL
Why do formative assessment?
“Feedback is the single most influential factor in
student learning” (Hattie 2009).
“Innovations that include strengthening the practice
of formative assessment produce significant and
often substantial learning gains” (Black and Wiliam,
Key word task
Jot down words that spring out at you from these
In small groups, on flipchart paper, draw a diagram
that sums up what you see as the main elements of
Assessment for learning
Definitions of formative assessment
Formative assessment is not an event or an instrument but
a collection of practices which all lead to some action that
improves learning (Black and Wiliam 1998).
Basic idea is simple – to contribute to student learning
through the provision of information about performance
A fine tuning mechanism for how and what we learn (Boud
Assessment of learning gives students marks, grades, scores;
AFL gives qualitative insights about students’ understandings
Formative assessment is effective when it is timed so that the
information can be used….
Formative helps students to internalise features of good
work, showing them how to improve (Shephard 2005).
Yet more definitions
Formative assessment hinges on developing students’ capacity
to monitor the quality of their own work during production….
One of the indispensable conditions for improvement is that
the students comes to hold a concept of quality similar to that
held by the teacher (Sadler 1989).
Formative tasks are ungraded, compulsory for everyone, and
always elicit feedback (TESTA).
Elements of AFL from formative
Put up flipchart diagrams around the walls. 5 minute
Favourite and ‘like’ with green dots. Disagree with red
dots. Be ambivalent with amber!
2 minute chat about what struck you in groups
My pop theory of AFL
•Tasks have real world context
•Tasks are often public
•Tasks are often negotiated or collaborative
•Feedback happens in time for adapting
•Feedback is about the task not the person
•Feedback suggests ways to improve
•Students see examples of work
•Students use criteria to judge
•Students use self and peer review
quality of work
Blogging in Education & American Studies
Staged formative process in Sports Studies
Multi-stage formative to summative on Media degrees
Youtube seminar reading productions in Media Studies
E-portfolio and portfolio examples from Social work
Journal Club in Pharmacy Degree.
Ministerial briefs in Politics Degree.
Teachers and Students give feedback
Conversation starter: What feedback would you like on your
Joining the dots between feedback: the cyclical cover sheet
Law and Dance video tutorials – self and one-to-one tutor
Peer assessment triads
Blogging - face to face and online comments
Questions not answers – what if, have you thought of…
Traffic light systems
Students evaluate the quality of work
Peer Review in Creative Writing
Drafting process on American Studies
Making sense of criteria – ‘criteria crunching’
Engineering at Strathclyde
Economics at Oxford Brookes (ASKE CETL)
Your ideas for your courses
Traffic light exercise: Red, Green, Amber
In pairs, in groups, in plenary
What will you take away and integrate into your
curriculum planning and teaching practice?
Why formative matters
1) Because it provides low-risk, more frequent opportunities
for students to learn from feedback (Sadler, 1989)
2) Because it helps students to fine-tune and understand
requirements and standards (Boud 2000, Nicol, 2006)
3) Because feedback to lecturers from formative tasks helps
to adapt teaching (Hattie, 2009)
4) Because it engages students in cycles of reflection and
collaboration (Biggs 2003; Nicol & McFarlane Dick 2006)
5) Because it encourages and distributes student effort
Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (1998) Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom
Assessment. King’s College. London.
Boud, D. (2000) Sustainable Assessment: Rethinking assessment for the learning society,
Studies in Continuing Education, 22: 2, 151 — 167.
Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C. (2004) Conditions under which assessment supports students' learning.
Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. 1(1): 3-31.
Hattie, J. (2007) The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research. 77(1) 81-112.
Nicol, D. J. and McFarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative Assessment and Self-Regulated Learning: A
Model and Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practice. Studies in Higher Education. 31(2): 199-
Jessop, T. , El Hakim, Y. and Gibbs, G. (2013) The whole is greater than the sum of its parts: a
large-scale study of students’ learning in response to different assessment patterns.
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. ifirst.
Sadler, D.R. (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems, Instructional
Science, 18, 119-144.
Shephard, L. (2005) Formative Assessment: Caveat Emptor. ETS International Conference. New
Yorke, M. (2003) Formative assessment in higher education: Moves towards theory and the
enhancement of pedagogic practice. Higher Education. 45