Assessment as and for learning - Formative Assessment
How may assessment guide teaching and learning?
“After 30 years of doing such work, I have
concluded that classroom teaching…is
perhaps the most complex, most
challenging, and most demanding subtle,
nuanced, and frightening activity that our
species has ever invented…The only time
a physician could possibly encounter a
situation of comparable complexity
would be in the emergency room of a
hospital during or after a natural
What is a grade?
“…an inadequate report of an inaccurate
judgement by a biased and variable judge of
the extent to which a student has attained
an undefined level of mastery of an
unknown proportion of an indefinite
(Paul Dressel, Facts and fancy in assigning
grades, 1957. p.6)
Interest in learning is
diminished and thinking is
“Students need some feedback about how they are doing in
terms of marks, grades or levels, but I suggest this should be
no more than once every two or three years in primary
schools, maybe once a year in lower secondary , and perhaps
once a term when before school-leaving or university-
“If I had to reduce all
of the research on
feedback into one
idea it would be this:
Students must be required to respond to
Ladder of Feedback
“Experience success and failure not as a
reward and punishment, but as
information.” (Jerome Bruner)
• Question Formulation Technique
• Critical Incident Plan
• Exit Cards, eg. One-Minute Essay
• End of Unit Reflections
• I learned…I liked…I wish…I wonder…
• I used to think…Now I think…
• Pedagogy discussions at the end of term
• Student Surveys
• Reflective essay using examples from your own work
during the year to show how you have grown as a
1. Be Kind
Presenting your work for critique puts you in an incredibly vulnerable position.
For the critic, on the other hand, it’s easy to get carried away when you’re
critiquing work, especially when you feel like you know exactly what a piece of
work would benefit from, and inadvertently say very hurtful things. Thus, this
ground rule cannot be stressed enough.
2. Be Specific
Even if you are being kind, you are not doing anybody any favours if you are
vague. ‘I think Melanie’s writing is really good’ does not cut it in a critique. ‘I
like the way Melanie uses lots of different verbs in her writing so that you feel
like you’re a part of the action’ is much better.
3. Be Helpful
Critique is not just about naming what is strong and weak in a piece of work, it
is also about working out how to go about improving that work.
I really like the way you………………..
Excellent ……………….. throughout
The most successful thing about this was ………………..
I enjoyed reading this because ………………..
It was especially good when you ………………..
In the first/second/third paragraph ………………..
I think ……………….. is quite difficult to understand/could be explained
better/could include more detail etc.
Your sentence/paragraph about ……………….. was ………………..
Think about adding ………………..
Think about taking away………………..
Have you thought about………………..?
To improve your………………..try………………..
Perhaps you could………………..
Throwing Your Money Away Step 1: The Activity (10 Minutes)
Divide into small groups of four to five. Introduce yourselves to each other.
Instructions for learners: You will have ten minutes to come up with two
different designs for paper airplanes that can fly at least three metres carrying at
least five 5 cent coins.
Instructions for documenters: Please observe with the following question in
mind: What do you notice about the individuals’ and group’s process of building
knowledge and what can you point to that makes you say that? Watch for
interesting and important moments or shifts in the ways ideas are being
developed. Document your observations individually. You can document in any
way you wish – jot down bits of conversation, take pictures with your mobile
phone, write short descriptive notes, or draw pictures or diagrams – but you
must document in some way!
Throwing Your Money Away Step 2: Debriefing (10 Minutes)
Documenters: Share with the learners selected observations and documentation about
the individuals’ and group’s process of building knowledge. Try to identify interesting or
important moments or shifts in the ways ideas were being developed and offer an
interpretation of how they advanced the learning process.
Learners: Share your responses to the documenters’ observations and interpretations as
well as your own reflections regarding interesting or important moments or shifts in the
learning process and what you learned about aerodynamics.
As a small group: Choose one thing you learned about the principles of aerodynamics
and one thing you learned about individual and group learning or the process of
documentation to share with the whole group. Feel free to walk around and look at the
designs of other groups.
As a large group: Share-out one thing your group learned about aerodynamics and one
thing you learned about individual and group learning or the process of documentation.
(From Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Melissa Rivard, Daniel Wilson. (2013). Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-
inspired approaches in all schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass)
Reggio educators refer
to documentation as
Image – Wamda: http://www.wamda.com/2012/05/4-ways-to-create-a-culture-of-observation-at-your-startup
Commence a routine of sharing a short video clip of
documentation at the start of class
Take a photo of an especially powerful
learning moment to revisit with students
“Jot down a provocative or insightful quote
from a student and share it with the class or
write it directly onto a speech bubble.”
Ask students to do the
Students develop greater
attentiveness to the
value of remembering
when recording them is
part of the classroom
The practice of documentation has several
• It is guided by a specific question about the
learning process and this question determines
how, what, and when to document.
• It engages teachers and students in
collectively analysing, interpreting, and
• It uses multiple media to create tangible
artifacts, which provide new vantage points
• It is selectively shared with audiences to
provoke new understandings.
• It shapes the design of future contexts for
Image – The Integration Engineer: http://theintegrationengineer.com/10-tips-on-making-effective-documentation/
Qualitative forms of sharing evidence like
student work, photos, and video are powerful
ways to provide a more complete picture of
“Assessment is an intrinsic part of
(Carla Rinaldi in Documentation and
Assessment: What is the Relationship? )
Image – All Things Learn:
“The Board of Studies does not require a number to be used (in
relation to assessment) until Year 12.”
“Grading is an end of course judgement.”
“School protocols squash the reality of what the Board requires out
• Too much testing
• Focus more on learning objectives and less on covering content
I BLEW IT!
I tried something new and innovative
and it didn’t work as well as I wanted
This coupon entitles me to be free of
criticism for my efforts
I’ll continue to pursue ways to help
my students be successful
I used to think…
Now I think…
A routine for reflecting on
how and why our thinking
A B C D/F
Volume So loud I can’t hear
Loud enough that I
can’t hear myself
Loud-ish in some parts of
the room but quiet in
So quiet I can hear the
Tempo Rapid: Hands are
Fast: Hands are
Leisurely: Hands are hit
together at an unhurried
Slow: Fingers are slowly
Dynamics Erupts suddenly,
builds to a
that is sustained for
a second or more,
then fades slowly
Builds up for a
second, peaks, then
No change in dynamics:
Begins with a silent pause,
pitter-pats for a second,