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Using assessment to support learning: why, what and how?

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  1. Using assessment to support learning: why, what and how? Workshop held at Omaha ESU #3 Omaha, NE; March 8-9, 2006 Dylan Wiliam, Educational Testing Service www.dylanwiliam.net

  2. Overview of presentation • Why raising achievement is important • Why investing in teachers is the answer • Why assessment for learning should be the focus • Why teacher learning communities should be the mechanism • How we can put this into practice

  3. Raising achievement matters • For individuals • Increased lifetime salary • Improved health • For society • Lower criminal justice costs • Lower health-care costs • Increased economic growth

  4. Where’s the solution? • Structure • Small high schools • K-8 schools • Alignment • Curriculum reform • Textbook replacement • Governance • Charter schools • Vouchers • Technology

  5. It’s the classroom • Variability at the classroom level is up to 4 times greater than at school level • It’s not class size • It’s not the between-class grouping strategy • It’s not the within-class grouping strategy • It’s the teacher

  6. Teacher quality • A labor force issue with 2 solutions • Replace existing teachers with better ones? • No evidence that more pay brings in better teachers • No evidence that there are better teachers out there deterred by certification requirements • Improve the effectiveness of existing teachers • The “love the one you’re with” strategy • It can be done • We know how to do it, but at scale? Quickly? Sustainably?

  7. Cost/effect comparisons

  8. Functions of assessment • For evaluating institutions • For describing individuals • For supporting learning • Monitoring learning • Whether learning is taking place • Diagnosing (informing) learning • What is not being learnt • Forming learning • What to do about it

  9. Effects of formative assessment • Several major reviews of the research • Natriello (1987) • Crooks (1988) • Black & Wiliam (1998) • Nyquist (2003) • All find consistent, substantial effects

  10. Kinds of feedback (Nyquist, 2003) • Weaker feedback only • Knowledge of results (KoR) • Feedback only • KoR + clear goals or knowledge of correct results (KCR) • Weak formative assessment • KCR+ explanation (KCR+e) • Moderate formative assessment • (KCR+e) + specific actions for gap reduction • Strong formative assessment • (KCR+e) + activity

  11. Effect of formative assessment (HE)

  12. Formative assessment • Classroom assessment is not (necessarily) formative assessment • Formative assessment is not (necessarily) classroom assessment

  13. Formative assessment Assessment for learning is any assessment for which the first priority in its design and practice is to serve the purpose of promoting pupils’ learning. It thus differs from assessment designed primarily to serve the purposes of accountability, or of ranking, or of certifying competence. An assessment activity can help learning if it provides information to be used as feedback, by teachers, and by their pupils, in assessing themselves and each other, to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged. Such assessment becomes ‘formative assessment’ when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching work to meet learning needs. Black et al., 2002

  14. Feedback and formative assessment “Feedback is information about the gap between the actual level and the reference level of a system parameter which is used to alter the gap in some way” (Ramaprasad, 1983 p. 4) • Three key instructional processes • Establishing where learners are in their learning • Establishing where they are going • Establishing how to get there

  15. Aspects of formative assessment

  16. Five Key Strategies …

  17. …and one big idea • Use evidence about learning to adapt instruction to meet student needs

  18. Keeping Learning on Track (KLT) • A pilot guides a plane or boat toward its destination by taking constant readings and making careful adjustments in response to wind, currents, weather, etc. • A KLT teacher does the same: • Plans a carefully chosen route ahead of time (in essence building the track) • Takes readings along the way • Changes course as conditions dictate

  19. Types of formative assessment • Long-cycle • Focus: between units • Length: four weeks to one year • Medium-cycle • Focus: within units • Length: one day to two weeks • Short-cycle • Focus: within lessons • Length: five seconds to one hour

  20. Questioning

  21. Kinds of questions: Israel Which fraction is the smallest? Success rate 88% Which fraction is the largest? Success rate 46%; 39% chose (b) [Vinner, PME conference, Lahti, Finland, 1997]

  22. Misconceptions

  23. Misconceptions 3a = 24 a + b = 16

  24. Molecular structure of water?

  25. Feedback

  26. Kinds of feedback: Israel • 264 low and high ability grade 6 students in 12 classes in 4 schools; analysis of 132 students at top and bottom of each class • Same teaching, same aims, same teachers, same classwork • Three kinds of feedback: scores, comments, scores+comments Feedback Gain Attitude scores none top +ve bottom -ve comments 30% all +ve [Butler(1988) Br. J. Educ. Psychol., 58 1-14]

  27. Responses FeedbackGain Attitude scores none top +ve bottom -ve comments 30% all +ve What do you think happened for the students given both scores and comments: A: Gain: 30%; Attitude: all +ve B: Gain: 30%; Attitude: top +ve, bottom -ve C: Gain: 0%; Attitude: all +ve D: Gain: 0%; Attitude: top +ve, bottom -ve E: Something else [Butler(1988) Br. J. Educ. Psychol., 58 1-14]

  28. Kinds of feedback: Israel (2) • 200 grade 5 and 6 Israeli students • Divergent thinking tasks • 4 matched groups • experimental group 1 (EG1); comments • experimental group 2 (EG2); grades • experimental group 3 (EG3); praise • control group (CG); no feedback • Achievement • EG1>(EG2≈EG3≈CG) • Ego-involvement • (EG2≈EG3)>(EG1≈CG) [Butler (1987) J. Educ. Psychol.79 474-482]

  29. Effects of feedback • Kluger & DeNisi (1996) • Review of 3000 research reports • Excluding those: • without adequate controls • with poor design • with fewer than 10 participants • where performance was not measured • without details of effect sizes • left 131 reports, 607 effect sizes, involving 12652 individuals • Average effect size 0.4, but • Effect sizes very variable • 40% of effect sizes were negative

  30. Feedback • Formative assessment requires • data on the actual level of some measurable attribute; • data on the reference level of that attribute; • a mechanism for comparing the two levels and generating information about the ‘gap’ between the two levels; • a mechanism by which the information can be used to alter the gap. • Feedback is therefore formative only if the information fed back is actually used in closing the gap.

  31. Formative assessment • Frequent feedback is not necessarily formative • Feedback that causes improvement is not necessarily formative • Assessment is formative only if the information fed back to the learner is used by the learner in making improvements • To be formative, assessment must include a recipe for future action

  32. How do students make sense of this? • Attribution (Dweck, 2000) • Personalization (internal v external) • Permanence (stable v unstable) • Essential that students attribute both failures and success to internal, unstable causes. (It’s down to you, and you can do something about it.) • Views of ‘ability’ • Fixed (IQ) • Incremental (untapped potential) • Essential that teachers inculcate in their students a view that ‘ability’ is incremental rather than fixed(by working, you’re getting smarter)

  33. Sharing learning intentions

  34. Sharing criteria with learners • 3 teachers each teaching 4 grade 7 science classes in two US schools • 14 week experiment • 7 two-week projects, scored 2-10 • All teaching the same, except: • For a part of each week • Two of each teacher’s classes discusses their likes and dislikes about the teaching (control) • The other two classes discusses how their work will be assessed [Frederiksen & White, AERA conference, Chicago, 1997]

  35. Iowa Test of Basic Skills Group Low Middle High Likes and dislikes 4.6 5.9 6.6 Reflective assessment 6.7 7.2 7.4 Sharing criteria with learners

  36. Peer- and self-assessment

  37. Self-assessment: Portugal • Teachers studying for MA in Education • Group 1 do regular programme • Group 2 work on self-assessment for 2 terms (20 weeks) • Teachers matched in age, qualifications and experience using the same curriculum scheme for the same amount of time • Pupils tested at beginning of year, and again after two terms • Group 1 pupils improve by 7.8 points • Group 2 pupils improve by 15 [Fontana & Fernandez, Br. J. Educ. Psychol. 64: 407-417]

  38. Self-assessment My red folder in the fourth year wants me to be positive about my grade E in English History: the heritage and glory of the British Empire “in my own words”. Sibani Raychaudhuri: English in Education, (1988) 22(3) 12 My red folder in the fourth year wants me to be clear and positive about what I achieve in school “in my own words” which are foreign to me My red folder in the fourth year suddenly out of nowhere wants me to assert what I achieve in school “in my own words”. How can I blow the trumpet they’ve taken from me? In my own words in my own language (which has no place here) how can I feel clear and positive?

  39. Questions?

  40. Putting it into practice

  41. Why research hasn’t changed teaching • The nature of expertise in teaching • Aristotle’s main intellectual virtues • Episteme: knowledge of universal truths • Techne: ability to make things • Phronesis: practical wisdom • What works is not the right question • Everything works somewhere • Nothing works everywhere • What’s interesting is “under what conditions” does this work? • Teaching is mainly a matter of phronesis, not episteme

  42. Expertise 1 Experts excel mainly in their own domain 2 Experts often develop automaticity for the repetitive operations that are needed to accomplish their goals 3 Experts are more sensitive to the task demands and social situation when solving problems. 4 Experts are more opportunistic and flexible in their teaching than novices 5 Experts represent problems in qualitatively different ways than novices. 6 Experts have fast and accurate pattern recognition capabilities. Novices cannot always make sense of what they experience. 7 Experts perceive meaningful patterns in the domain in which they are experienced. 8 Experts begin to solve problems slower, but bring richer and more personal sources of information to bear on the problem that they are trying to solve. Berliner, 1994

  43. Countdown 3 25 1 4 9 Target number: 127

  44. Klein & Klein (1981) • Six video extracts of a person delivering cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) • 5 of the video extracts are students1 of the video extracts is an expert • Videos shown to three groups • Students, experts, instructors • Success rate in identifying expert: • Experts: 90% • Students: 50% • Instructors: 30%

  45. Expertise Positioning Low Middle High Random positioning 4 3.5 3 Actual position 4 8 16 Chess (Newell & Simon, 1973)

  46. Knowledge ‘transfer’ After Nonaka & Tageuchi, 1995

  47. Teacher learning • Teacher professional development must be • Consistent with what we know about learning, incorporating • choice • respect for prior experience • recognition of varied learning styles and motivation • Sustained • Contextualized • Consistent with research on expertise

  48. Supporting Teachers and Schools to Change throughTeacher Learning Communities

  49. AfL requires new teacher roles • These new roles require new ways of thinking that are cognitively demanding. • AfL requires teachers to develop ways of thinking that look like the thinking of experts. • Experts perceive the world and think in qualitatively different ways than non-experts. • They don’t just think faster than non-experts, they think differently.