Specific Reflection 5
Module: Assessment for Learning.
1. Both teacher and student need clear information about learning intentions and outcomes.
Knowing what the learning intentions and outcomes are is a crucial part of the learning process. It significantly increases the students’ motivation to learn. (McGee, Fraser, 2008). When you can clearly envision what you need to know, you are more equipped to self evaluate and control your own learning. According to Clarke in Unlocking Formative Assessment, the learning intention is vital to formative assessment, and needs to be clear at the planning stage.
One way this principle can be used in the classroom is for teachers to develop and share what the learning intentions are (WALT) and what success criteria may look like. (McGee, Fraser, 2008). At the start of each lesson clearly providing the learning intentions to the student. Allowing the students then to help you develop what the success criteria will be. If the student is actively involved in the development of the success criteria then they may have more motivation to strive for it. (Clarke, 2008).
2. Teacher assessment practice should impact positively on student performances.
There are many ways that teachers can make assessment a stressful and negative experience for students. I have personal memories of high anxiety and worry when entering a closed test environment, or even when the teacher singled us out from the rest of the class to do one on one testing. There was a big emphasis on right and wrong and I remember feeling shame and embarrassment when I didn’t get things right. A feeling of defeat was common when I got results back that weren’t “good”. In The Professional Practice of Teaching, McGee and Fraser say that assessment feedback should only result in helping the student to progress in their learning. Generally speaking there are two classifications of feedback, which are descriptive or evaluative. Both have a powerful influence on the student’s achievement. Research shows that marking is directly responsive for regression in many pupils. (Clarke, 2008).
One way for this regression to be avoided in marking could be if the teacher used the ‘closing the gap’ strategy of marking. Instead of ticks and crosses on work, the ‘closing the gap’ strategy has the teacher highlight three places where the child has written the best aspects against the learning intentions. Then with an arrow indicate where some improvement can be made. The arrow can lead to some white space and have a ‘closing the gap’ prompt that allows the student to make an improvement in their work. It allows for a lot more constructive feedback from the teacher and a higher level of engagement in the student’s work. It allows the student to see the best parts of their work recognised and gives them an opportunity to improve on the parts that need it.(Clark, 2008).
3. Teachers need to adjust their teaching to take account of the results of assessment.
Many teachers have a strict teaching style/schedule that they adhere to and don’t have the flexibility to acknowledge the adjustments they need to make to fit with results of assessment. Many teachers may want to stick to their plan regardless, even when results are showing that there is still a lot of learning to do in an area they have covered. If the teachers just mark the grade and then move swiftly on, there is no chance for improvements. (McGee and Fraser, 2008).
One way teachers can adjust their teaching to take into account the results of assessments is called Interactive Formative assessment. It is used when teachers notice that the students do not comprehend something. In formative assessment there are generally two types of assessment that are planned and purpose. Interactive Formative assessment is a purpose type where the teacher allows more time to discuss problem areas of the topic and responds to it. Where the teacher notices, recognises and responds to students learning and non-learning. (Bell and Cowie, 2001).
1. Having shared clarity of learning intentions.
2. Getting students to help identify and make the success criteria.
3. Providing the right feedback to the students.
There has been a wealth of research done looking at the effects of what knowing the learning intentions have on students learning. It is remarkable just how much of a positive effect this can have on children’s motivation, decision-making, and ability to direct themselves through the task. (Clarke 2008). Starting each lesson with a clear WALT would be setting up a very good basis of classroom practice. Visually displaying these to guide children and refer back to is a good idea.
Having success criteria is helpful for children to be able to self evaluate throughout the lesson and determine if they are on track. It will help them understand the reason behind the learning and give them greater motivation. If the children help create the criteria it involves them further in their own learning. (Clarke, 2008). After the WALT has been established and a brief overview of what the lesson will contain it would be good classroom practice to get children to contribute their ideas on what success will look like. This way it is realistic goal for them and gives them something to aspire to. Having set it themselves will deepen their motivation. Displaying this near the WALT to go over at the end of the lesson is a good idea.(McGee, Fraser, 2008).
Feedback is a powerful thing and teachers must be careful in how they give their students feedback. There are many different ways to give positive and motivating feedback that will inspire and encourage students. Research shows children should be given information about where they have achieved against the learning intentions, and where they can improve. If teachers use the ‘closing the gap’ strategy for marking this will be helpful and informative feedback that the student can then make improvements on. (Clarke, 2008).
Bell, B. Cowie,B. (2001) The Characteristics of Formative Assessment in Science Education. Retrieved from https://thedigitalshift.wikispaces.com/file/view/formative+Assessment+in+a+science+class.pdf
Clarke, S. (2001) Unlocking Formative Assessment. Bristol, England: Hodder Headline.
McGee, C, Fraser, D.(2008) The Professional Practice of Teaching. (3rd ed.) Australia: Learning Australia Pty Limited.