Professors Ian Black and Dylan Wiliam of Kings College London reviewed a significant number of research studies and showed that formative assessment has more effect on learning than any other single factor (including prior learning).
(Black & Wiliam (1998) “Assessment and Classroom Learning” in the journal Assessment in Education.) The following summarises the conclusions drawn from this research and is a good starting point for teachers in relation to assessment practice. One of the key points was the importance of assessment overall on learning.
Effective formative assessment has more effect on learning that any other factor and its most positive effect is on low attainers.
This is really important to remember as many tutors seem to see assessment as something of a burden and an activity that generally is used for certification purposes …. However, being mindful of the impact of formative assessment on learning should be a starting point for enhancing assessment practice and making time for assessment activity within every lesson.
Avoid grading – grades are consistently found to demotivate low attainers - they also fail to challenge some high attainers, often making them complacent. So avoid giving a grade or mark except where absolutely necessary. This is not easy to do on some courses, particularly where there are strict guidelines in relation to the assessment of coursework. However it is done
as a result of ‘custom and practice’ within teaching teams, rather than being a stipulation from the qualification awarding body ….. so it is possible to question current assessment practice and give thought to activities that will have the greatest impact on learning. Ask yourself whether or not it is necessary to grade every piece of work ….. or whether learners would benefit from detailed feedback in relation to what they have done well and what they need to work on. Use self-assessment – ask...