Being a better teacher

Assessment for Learning and Teaching in Secondary Schools (Review + Quotations)

Due to my current studies I dig deeper into certain areas of teaching, namely needs analysis, course design and assessment. There are lots of materials on all of them but “a good book is hard to find” as you all know. Today I’d like to share the best lines from the book by Martin Fautley and Jonathan Savage published in 2010 by Learning Matters Ltd.

I admire this book for a great presentation of ideas in a way which is easy to follow and a engaging to learn from. The content includes all the main areas of assessment including both theoretical concepts and very practical “ready-to-use” ideas for classrooms. It is not a never-ending monologue when the author is right no matter what: each chapter is broken into small pieces of text divided by discussion questions, case studies and extra notes.

Book review in 3 lines:

  1.  Assessment can not be separated from learning so we have to plan it together with our teaching, not afterwards;
  2. No matter how good your assessment was planned, without a clear assessment criterium known by the teacher and students it will not work out;
  3. Assessment should be a tool of learning itself (check the picture of Bloom’s taxonomy to get a better idea of this notion).

The purpose of the post is not to praise the book but to provide useful quotes those who are interested or have to learn quickly  more about assessment; therefore, let’s start. There was no change from the original text. If you see “…” in the middle – it means that I have cut down extra details or made a wordy explanation short for the sake of time and word count. In the end of each quote there is a page number so that you can include it into your article or any other type of academic work without worries about plagiarism. Key words of each citation are in bold.

  • Historically, assessment was viewed as the thing which happened after learning had taken place. Graue writes how ‘…assessment and instruction are often conceived as curiously separate in both time and purpose’ (Graue, 1993, p291). In this view, a course of ‘instruction’ is followed by assessment. P. 5
  • Here it is fairly safe to assume that responses to this reflective task will relate to ‘what I taught them in the unit of work’, and are likely be variants of two key educational notions – knowledge and skills.  P. 6
  • To return to the end-of-unit test view of teaching and learning, the origin for this lies in a view of education which treats students as ‘empty vessels’, and where the job of the teacher is to ‘pour in’ as much ‘knowledge’ as possible. The function of assessment is to calculate what has gone in, from the perspective of how ‘full’ of knowledge the student has become. This view of assessment places the onus on the student to learn – to absorb – and the teacher to teach – to ‘pour out’ knowledge.

    … This simple and unproblematic view of school-valued knowledge as being ‘knowing that’ had, however, already begun to break down earlier in the twentieth century with a split between academic knowledge, as taught in grammar schools, and vocational learning, as delivered in secondary modern and technical schools.

    … As Freire (1985, p188 ) observed, ‘education is a political act’. And it is not only education which is political. The notion that assessment too has political ramifications was noted by Broadfoot: Assessment procedures are the vehicle whereby the dominant rationality of the corporate capitalist societies typical of the contemporary Western world is translated into the structures and processes of schooling. (Broadfoot, 1999, p64)           P. 7
    Broadfoot, P. (1999) Assessment and the emergence of modern society, in Moon, B. and Murphy, P. (eds) Curriculum in context. London: Paul Chapman/Open University.
    Freire, P. (1985)
    The politics of education: culture, power, and liberation. Hadley, Mass.: Bergin & Garvey.

  • you need to give very careful thought to your own assessments to make sure you are not falling into the trap of assessing language instead of subject knowledge.  P. 12
  • From a classical behaviourist stance, educational assessment techniques are often built around such things as short-answer questions, multiple choice and true/false tests. These are often timed, rather than open-ended, sometimes with different timings for different sections. The answers required are generally closed, with a right/wrong marking scheme.
    If the individual passes the test, all is well, and they can proceed to the next stage of sequenced learning. What happens in the case of those who do not meet requirements is that as they have not achieved, they will need to be re-instructed, and then retested. P. 18
  • Constructivist views of learning centre on the notion that learning is an active process, and one in which the individual constructs meaning for themselves. P. 19
  • Social constructivism . . . the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers.  (Vygotsky, 1978, p86)

    What this means is that a child is able to achieve at a higher level when working alongside someone who is more experienced than they are, either an adult or another student. This view of learning and knowledge can be seen to encompass both ‘knowing that’ and ‘knowing how’, and, in common with the views of Piaget above, will inevitably involve speech as a communicative tool.   P. 20

  • American psychologist Jerome Bruner. Bruner postulated that developing cognitive structures within the child enable complex ideas to be revisited at different stages of individuals’ academic studies. He proposed that the scholastic organisation of this should be in the form of a spiral curriculum, where there is movement both horizontally and vertically. This means that topics should be covered more than once, in different depths according to the cognitive readiness of the students: A curriculum as it develops should revisit the basic ideas repeatedly, building upon them until the student has grasped the full formal apparatus that goes with them. (Bruner, 1960, p13)   p. 20   Bruner, J.S. (1960) The process of education. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
  • What we can take from brain-based approaches is that the notions of information storage and retrieval are important ones. This in turn helps explain why we need to consider teaching and learning as separate, but linked, processes.

    An important mantra for this book is the notion that:   Teaching = Learning   (‘Teaching does not equal learning’)

    In brain-based approaches we can see that, however secure our view of sequential learning is, the best planned and executed teaching programme ever devised does not mean that there will be a shortcut to the minds of the students.   P. 23

  • A common assumption, often untrue, is that grades in mathematics reflect the number of correct answers a student has achieved. If this was the criterion that you used for item 2 in the list above, then you will have assumed that the student answered seven sums correctly out of a total of ten. For item 7, the poem, you are likely to have decided that the criteria related to correctness of form, and quality of ideas. The issue of quality is problematic in some areas of work. Item 5, the painting, may have presented non-art teachers with a problem. What happens, you might think, if you do not like the work which the student has done? For art teachers, the notion of connoisseurship means that the teacher is hopefully able to transcend value judgements, and arrive at a more reasoned response.  P. 29

    The danger for teachers is to measure whatever can be easily measured. In the case of the student writing a poem, it would be for the teacher to simply and mechanistically check whether each line-end rhymed. P. 31

  • We discussed in Chapter 1 the differences between ’knowing that’ and ’knowing how’. Another way of describing these different types of knowledge is to use the terminologies declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge. P. 31
  • Black and Wiliam suggest that there are four areas involved in formative assessment:

    . questioning;

    . feedback;

    . sharing criteria;

    . self assessment.

    Since then, a fifth area has often been added, that of peer assessment; sometimes linked with self-assessment, and sometimes treated as a topic in its own right.                 P. 37

  • Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives of the cognitive domain was first published in the 1950s and resulted from Bloom and his fellow researchers categorising and classifying questions which were commonly asked in educational settings. A diagrammatic representation of Bloom’s taxonomy is to be found in Figure 4.1.    p. 40 
  • Feedforward   We have discussed how you will be having dialogues with your students focusing on helping them with their current work, and giving them feedbac
  • k to help them with this. It is also possible to give a specifically targeted form of feedback which is designed to help the students in work they will be doing in the future, in other words feedforward.   P. 42
  • For beginning teachers the links between learning outcomes and assessment criteria cannot be overstated. Clearly written learning outcomes can either become their own assessment criteria, or will lead in a linear fashion to crafting assessment criteria from them. What this means for you in practice is that you have to spend some time in carefully planning your learning outcomes. P. 47    learning outcomes = objectives
  • Metacognition, put simply, involves thinking about thinking.  Students must be trained in the required metacognitive skills by teachers modelling the processes for them. Teachers can do this by sharing marking exercises with classes, using exemplification material to show how criteria are applied and how judgements are reached.  (Brooks, 2002, p70)   P. 53    Brooks, V. (2002) Assessment in secondary schools: the new teacher’s guide to monitoring, assessment, recording, reporting and accountability. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • There are essentially three types of planning that you are likely to be involved in at this stage of your development as a beginning teacher.

    . Long-term planning: For a whole year group, for example, this would be an overview of the units of work that make up the learning over an academic year for a specific year cohort.

    . Medium-term planning: For units of work; these can be on a given topic, a thematic approach, a section of an exam specification, or a sequence of learning activities.

    . Individual lesson plans    p. 57

  • Inside the Black Box identifies five simple principles that can help you improve your students’ learning through assessment.
    1. Provide effective feedback to students.
    2. Actively involve your students in their own learning.
    3. Adjust your teaching to take account of the results of assessment.
    4. Recognise the profound influence assessment has on the motivation and self-esteem of students, both of which are crucial to learning.
    1. Consider the need for students to be able to assess themselves and to understand how to improve. P. 92

    Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (1998) Inside the black box: raising standards through classroom assessment.  London: King’s College.

  • Your assessment practice should build in a process of individual target setting for each student. The monitoring of these targets can be done in different ways. Personalisation of the curriculum is a very important current theme in education and assessment practices have an important role to play here. P. 93
  • Having collected a range of assessment data, it will be important to begin interpreting and analysing them as soon as possible after they have been collected. The longer the gap between the collection of the data and the process of interpretation and analysis, the more difficult it will be to treat the data in an authentic manner, i.e. in light of the context in which they were obtained.

Like lesson evaluations, the interpretation and analysis of assessment data should have a twin focus and seek to identify a range of questions that relate to:

. the consequences of your teaching and how this can be improved;

. what students have learnt and what evidence you have for their learning.   P. 113

* Inspired by https://eflwhiz.wordpress.com/ which was my time-saver during DELTA Module 1 preparation with its summaries of some articles and books I had no time or chance to find but had to grasp the main ideas from.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.