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

Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds CHRIS: The UK Government and many other agencies are encouraging teachers to focus on evidence-based practice and teachers are keen to do so. However, its is not always easy to understand and interpret research ideas into practice. Gert Biesta, who is a Professor of Education at Brunel University argues that educational research can inform but not direct teaching and wrote ‘research cannot supply us with rules for action but only hypotheses for intelligent problem solving.’ (Biesta, 2007, p. 17). If this is the case, then it follows that teachers need time to interpret and decide collectively what and how research evidence and ideas might inform their practice.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds What we have found, on working with teachers on assessment for learning for almost 20 years now, is that teachers often need some idea of what the new practice might look like and so when we come across teachers who have been working on our research ideas for a while, we like to share practice-based evidence with other teachers. We believe this helps teachers envisage how such ideas might work in their classrooms and gives them the impetus and confidence to try out new research ideas.

Evidence collection is not the beginning or the end

You’ve now seen a selection of ways to gather evidence of student learning. Evidence collection is just part of the process of planning for learning and developing a formative learning environment. It is how you respond to the evidence that makes a real impact.

In this video, Chris introduces the idea that what you will learn in this course is founded by practice-based evidence (learning from other teachers’ practice). However, be cautious of adopting teaching strategies without evaluating whether they are appropriate in specific contexts in your classroom.

“…research cannot supply us with rules for action but only with hypotheses for intelligent problem solving. Research can only tell us what has worked in a particular situation, not what will work in any future situation. The role of the educational professional in this process is not to translate general rules into particular lines of action. It is rather to use research findings to make one’s problem solving more intelligent.” Biesta (2007)

The examples we provide throughout this course show how they might work in your classroom, but you will need to consider how they apply to your students in order to support their learning. Thinking about the strategies you have just seen, you may already be reflecting on which ones you think will work for your teaching, and which might not.


What do you learn from others?

Look at the statements below from teachers that exemplify why practice-based evidence (classroom research evidence) is key in helping them adopt new practices.

  1. “Seeing real teachers try out ideas in the classrooms gives me confidence that I can make these changes in my classroom.”
  2. “Watching how the students respond to another teacher helps me see what I need to do to make this work for my class.”
  3. “Clearly assessment for learning helps kids improve but the practice-based evidence helps me see how it works in reality.”
  4. “The great thing about seeing assessment for learning in action in the classroom helps me see what I already do to make this work and what I need to refine to get it working even better.”
  5. “The research makes sense but seeing teachers and students doing it brings it to life and so helps me prepare to do this.”
  6. “Just noting the way the teachers question and the ways they interact with their students is inspirational and evidence that this is achievable in real classrooms.”
  7. “Practice-based evidence helps me compare what I currently do with what I might be able to do with my class and that is really helpful.”

Choose one of the statements that stands out as important for you and explain why this is in the comments below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment

National STEM Learning Centre