Practitioners manage the ongoing process of learning and assessment. As part of this process they need to provide a firm foundation in terms of the curriculum area including providing appropriate examples and practice in what is being taught and learned.
Effective assessment is integrated into ongoing learning from starting a developmental learning sequence, unit or topic, learning the curriculum and demonstrating progress and achievement, to planning the next steps in learning.
Strategies for integrating assessment into the learning and teaching process challenge and motivate the learner:
Teaching practice ensures assessment supports learning when practitioners discuss with learners their existing knowledge and understandings and share with them the learning outcomes and success criteria for the activities in which they are participating.
This discussion enables learners to be clear about the nature and quality of work required to achieve success.
Classroom interaction and feedback provided by the practitioner should assist learners to review their progress and to plan the next steps forward.
Classroom dialogue encourages and enables learners to think and talk about their thinking and learning and thereby deepen their understanding of this learning and develop their ability to act as independent learners.
Growing ability in understanding how to learn in the curriculum area being studied will strengthen student ability to review their own learning and comment productively on that of their peers.
John Hattie, in two You Tube presentations, Visible Learning Part 1 and Visible Learning Part 2 summarises the findings from his meta-analysis of research papers into what works and what does not to enhance learning achievement. He concludes by arguing for the importance of teachers collecting evidence about what is happening in their classrooms so that the learning occurring there becomes visible to them.
In Classroom Assessment: Minute by Minute, Day by Day, Leahy, Lyon, Thompson and Wiliam elaborate on five strategies they regard as key parts of ongoing assessment and provide examples of how teachers have implemented them.
The article Working Inside the Black Box: Assessment in the Classroom continues the discussion by Black and Wiliam and others of the benefits of ongoing assessment. It also comments on strategies that teachers have developed as key parts of ongoing assessment, namely questioning, feedback by comment rather than grading and peer and self-assessment.
Emily Skinner in the article Differentiation: It starts with Pre-Assessment, describes a classroom method whereby a teacher starts with determining where the students are at in their learning at the beginning of the start of new topic and based on the evidence uncovered organises the next stages of the learning process.
Helen Timperley in her article, Using student assessment for professional learning: focusing on students’ outcomes to identify teachers’ needs, argues that the improvement of both student learning and teachers’ professional learning is an interactive cyclical process. It begins with teachers examining assessment evidence about learners’ knowledge and skills and considering what they need to know to improve the learning process. This reflection assists teachers to deepen their professional knowledge and refine their skills and enables them to engage students in new learning experiences. To close the cycle teachers gather assessment evidence again in order to consider the impact of their changed teaching. Timperley also discusses the essential role of school leaders in promoting the types of professional learning that will support teachers in improving students’ learning outcomes.
The article, Visible learning: what’s good for the goose…, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Research article, April 2010, summarises John Hattie’s research into what influences work in schools to improve learning. It outlines Hattie’s findings on the extent to which six basic factors; the child, the home, the school, the teacher, the curriculum and approaches to teaching contribute to achievement. It reports that Hattie’s basic message is the importance of “visible learning” and ‘visible teaching” whereby learning is the explicit goal for not only learners but also teachers.