Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching. Join the course to learn more.

Preparing for Week 2

Here’s what you need to do between now and next week:

Firstly, we want you to begin to jot down questions about assessment for learning for either Dylan or Chris. Doing this will help concentrate your mind on the course, and Chris and Dylan will respond to some of these questions during the live session scheduled for Week 4 of the course.

Secondly, we want you to read a summary paper by Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black of their seminal work ‘Inside the Black Box - Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment’. The full published version can be purchased from Amazon.

Focus in particular on these five excerpted bullet points, which appear in bold font in the summary paper:

  1. Feedback to any pupil should be about the particular qualities of his or her work, with advice on what he or she can do to improve, and should avoid comparisons with other pupils.
  2. For formative assessment to be productive, pupils should be trained in self-assessment so that they can understand the main purposes of their learning and thereby grasp what they need to do to achieve.
  3. Opportunities for pupils to express their understanding should be designed into any piece of teaching, for this will initiate the interaction whereby formative assessment aids learning.
  4. The dialogue between pupils and a teacher should be thoughtful, reflective, focused to evoke and explore understanding, and conducted so that all pupils have an opportunity to think and to express their ideas.
  5. Tests and homework exercises can be an invaluable guide to learning, but the exercises must be clear and relevant to learning aims. The feedback on them should give each pupil guidance on how to improve, and each must be given opportunity and help to work at the improvement.

We’d like you to think about which of these main ideas have stood the test of time, which may not have done so, and what, in your view, should perhaps have been given more emphasis.

Finally, we think you will find it useful to do some ‘field work’ by talking to colleagues about their own perceptions of assessment for learning, and about the ways they practice it; or by asking colleagues how they look for evidence of student learning.

We recognise that which (if any!) of these things you do will depend on your work and personal circumstances as well as on your motivation. This is an open online course - so that’s fine.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching

National STEM Learning Centre

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: