In classrooms where assessment for learning is practiced, students know at the outset of a unit of study what they are expected to learn. At the beginning of the unit, the teacher will work with the student to understand what she or he already knows about the topic as well as to identify any gaps or misconceptions (initial/diagnostic assessment). As the unit progresses, the teacher and student work together to assess the student’s knowledge, what she or he needs to learn to improve and extend this knowledge, and how the student can best get to that point (formative assessment).
Assessment for learning occurs at all stages of the learning process. In past decades, teachers would design a unit of study that would typically include objectives, teaching strategies, and resources. An evaluation component—the test or examination—may or may not have been included as part of this design (Cooper, 2006). The student’s mark on this test or exam was taken as the indicator of his or her understanding of the topic.
Assessment for learning •comprises two phases—initial or diagnostic assessment and formative assessment •assessment can be based on a variety of information sources (e.g. , portfolios, works in progress, teacher observation, conversation) •verbal or written feedback to the student is primarily descriptive and emphasizes strengths, identifies challenges, and points to next steps •as teachers check on understanding they adjust their instruction to keep students on track •no grades or scores are given – record-keeping is primarily anecdotal and descriptive •occurs throughout the learning process, from the outset of the course of study to the time of summative assessment Assessment as learning
•begins as students become aware of the goals of instruction and the criteria for performance •involves goal-setting, monitoring progress, and reflecting on results •implies student ownership and responsibility for moving his or her thinking forward (metacognition) •occurs throughout the learning process Assessment of learning •assessment that is accompanied by a number or letter grade (summative) •compares one student’s achievement with standards •results can be communicated to the student and parents.
•occurs at the end of the learning unit Evaluation •judgment made on the basis of a student’s performance Diagnostic assessment (now referred to more often as “pre-assessment”) •assessment made to determine what a student does and does not know about a topic assessment made to determine a student’s learning style or preferences used to determine how well a student can perform a certain set of skills related to a particular subject or group of subjects •occurs at the beginning of a unit of study.
•used to inform instruction:makes up the initial phase of assessment for learning Formative assessment •assessment made to determine a student’s knowledge and skills, including learning gaps as they progress through a unit of study •used to inform instruction and guide learning •occurs during the course of a unit of study •makes up the subsequent phase of assessment for learning Summative assessment •assessment that is made at the end of a unit of study to determine the level of understanding the student has achieved •includes a mark or grade against an expected standard.
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