North of England Education Conference, SheffieldMind, brain, community: Inspiring learners, strengthening resilience 16 January 2013 3.15 to 4.15 Making assessment credible and learning inspiring Dr Maddalena Taras University of Sunderland
My Research Areas of original innovative expertise and publications in Assessment: 1. Original self-assessment model for student learning and inclusion in assessment 2. Original theoretical framework for summative, formative and self-assessment 3. Evaluated and developed assessment theories and practices within and across sectors 4. Research on linguistic and cultural influences on perceptions of assessment 5. Critiques of theoretical claims for Assessment for Learning plus some solutions 6. Evaluated institutional discrepancies in assessment practices and discourses in HE
My aim: to make you think and challenge your ideas Discuss solutions to problems of theory in “Assessment for Learning”
Main points of presentation Importance of assessment Definitions of assessment process, functions Relationship between summative (SA) and formative assessment (FA) Understand problems of theory in AfL (In HE problems because of import from Compulsory Sector) Conclusions
Previous relevant papers: Taras, M. (2005) Assessment – Summative and Formative – some theoretical reflections, British Journal of Educational Studies. 53(3), 466-478 Taras, M. (2007) Machinations of Assessment: Metaphors, Myths and Realities, Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 15(1) 55-69 Taras, M. (2007) Assessment for Learning: understanding theory to improve practice Journal of Further and Higher Education 31(4) 363-371 Taras, M. (2009) Summative Assessment: the Missing Link for Formative Assessment Journal of Further and Higher Education, Feb 33(1), 57–69 Taras, M. (2010) Back to Basics: definitions and processes of assessments, RevistaPráxisEducativa, Vol. 5, No 2 (2010) 123-130. http://www.revistas2.uepg.br/index.php/praxiseducativa/article/view/1829/1386 Taras, M. (2012) Where is the Theory in Assessment for Learning? Online Educational Research Journal http://www.oerj.org Taras, M. (2012) Assessing Assessment Theories. Online Educational Research Journal http://www.oerj.org
“Assessment for Learning” (AfL) Is AfL a) same/similar to FA? b) different to FA? Problem between AfL and FA discourses
“Assessment for Learning” It has opened the “Black Box” of the classroom, has received the endorsement of the UK government, provided a key element of the national assessment framework in Wales and been an important export to the US, Hong Kong and countries across the world. I am supportive of the “opening of the Black Box” and the focus on an ethical, practical working philosophy of institutional learning which prioritises formative assessment BUT critical of epistemological position, particularly the lack of cohesion and coherence in the theory of AfL.
Assessment for learning Black and Wiliam 1998 review of research, world-wide renown Black et al. 2003 p2 the ‘Bible’ of assessment for learning
Social and political importance of assessment “…in recent years the importance of assessment as a policy tool has grown enormously as governments have increasingly come to realise its powerful potential as a mechanism of state control” (Broadfoot and Black 2004 p9) “Assessment serves as a communication device between the world of education and that of the wider society” (Broadfoot and Black 2004 p9)
Assessment functions Do you agree a) uses/functions of assessment can be many? b) can decide one function and then use it differently (one day/week/year later)? c) difficult to control uses/functions?
Assessment functions Uses to which the products of assessment are put Can be social, political and educational choices Functions could influence criteria, NOT process or standards i.e. selecting for entrance to course has one focus (criteria) assessing for exam may have another focus and different criteria An assessment can have multiple functions
Theory, empirical research and practice Tight (2004 p406) notes that “... there are strong pressures on those working in educational departments to focus their research energies on identifying what works best in the classroom or lecture theatre ..” “...the demand for evidence-based practice gives relatively little priority to theory.”
Assessment for Learning Theory There is confusion of: 1. process and functions of assessment 2. summative and formative assessment are distinguished by functions 3. definitions of formative assessment 4. assessment of process/product with classroom interaction
Relationship between FA and SA Scriven 1967 was the first to make the distinction between summative and formative BUT Black and Wiliam claim otherwise: “From the earliest use of these terms it was stressed that the terms applied not to assessment themselves, but to the functions they served.” (Wiliam and Black 1996 p538 use Bloom et al 1971)
Assessment functions and assessment process First major problem with AfL: process of assessment, SA or FA, constantly sidelined by insistence on ‘functions’ Confusing functions of assessment with the process major problem of assessment and AfL
Implications of assessment for learning theory Focusing on functions means Working with ephemeral and imprecise aims, criteria, standards Changing functions for SA and FA means changing criteria
Assessment theories Scriven 1967: assessment definition distinction SA - FA Sadler, 1989, 2010 – theory of FA Taras 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012 – theory SA, FA and self assessment Black and Wiliam 1998, 2003, 2006, 2009 – theory FA (and AfL) (cross sector)
Assessment or Evaluation “Evaluation is itself a methodological activity which is essentially similar whether we are trying to evaluate coffee machines or teaching machines, plans for a house or plans for a curriculum” (Scriven 1967 p40) Assessment is a ubiquitous process Scriven in context of curriculum evaluation, generalisable to all assessment processes
Definition of Assessment “Assessment: a judgement justified according to specific weighted set goals, yielding either comparative or numerical ratings. Necessary to justify (a) the data-gathering instruments or criteria (b) the weightings (c) the selection of goals” (Scriven 1967 p40)
Is Summative assessment is linked to a) functions of assessment? b) processes of assessment? c) grades? d) feedback? e) learning?
Is Formative assessment is linked to a) functions of assessment? b) processes of assessment? c) grades? d) feedback? e) learning?
Distinction SA - FA Scriven 1967 – based on assessment processes SA = assessment FA = assessment + feedback (used)
Theory of FA Sadler – FA linked to goals, standards, (criteria) + self assessment FA = feedback used SA hardly mentioned therefore assessment process becomes implicit
Theory of FA, SA + ssa Taras uses Scriven SA + FA + Sadler FA Plus - assessment and feedback MUST be negotiated for understanding and take-up by learner – therefore self-assessment mandatory SA + feedback negotiated , decided + used by learner = FA
Relationship SA – FA (Taras) SA and FA are processes SA is a judgement according to criteria and standards (implicit or explicit) Judgement (SA) provides feedback Use of feedback is FA SA + feedback negotiation + use = FA
Where is the theory in AfL? AfL synonymous with FA but different Early work AfL link to FA and assessment Later work AfL just learning but 3 of 4 AfL interventions are feedback from assessment! ie feedback through marking, peer and self-assessment and the formative use of summative tests (4th = questioning)
Theory in AfL FA linked then synonymous with AfL 2 types of FA (1) same as Sadler FA (2) teacher action to improve L + T Black and Wiliam 2009 removed AfL link to FA AfL = learning only BUT AfL interventions = egs feedback from assessment All theories & empirical research agree student self-assessment is mandatory for learning
Problems in AfL theory 1. SA and FA based on functions 2. Separate SA + FA totally (cuts rich(est) feedback from SA) 3. Confusion AfL + FA
AfL theory creates problems FA needs a separate evaluative process Repetition of FA and SA Wastes tutors’ time and effort Confuses change of criteria with functions SA (and criteria) implicit within FA
Problems solved if 1. base SA + FA on processes 2. FA – one definition to encompass all contexts 3. explicit link between SA + FA processes 4. explicit link between processes and functions
Conclusion SA is central and necessary to all assessment SA is a stepping stone to FA i.e. learning FA a step which justifies and explains SA
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