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Assessment for Learning Promoting Formative Strategies

Assessment for Learning Promoting Formative Strategies

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Assessment for Learning Promoting Formative Strategies

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  1. Assessment for LearningPromoting Formative Strategies A quick reminder ….What does AfL involve in the classroom? • Teachers having an understanding of the principles of AfL and the research that underpins these principles. • The teacher having a clear idea of the learning intention and the strategies that can be used that will allow the learning to be successful in each lesson. • The teacher sharing explicitly with the pupil and TAs what needs to be learnt and what will allow pupils to demonstrate success. • The teacher and TAs creating an environment where there is a dialogue not just about what is being learnt but also making explicit to pupils how they learn. • The teacher providing feedback that will inform pupils of what they have learnt well and what they need to learn next. • Developing pupils’ self evaluation skills and making them more independent in their learning. • The teacher and pupils having a shared understanding of where they are in their learning, what they need to do to make progress and how they can make that progress. • Using summative assessment to inform the pupils of future actions that will allow them to make further progress. • What are pupils saying about AfL? • Pupils genuinely appreciate the sharing of objectives particularly where there is a consistent whole school approach to sharing them verbally and visually. • When asked to talk about the progress they might make in a lesson pupils typically identify success in terms of ‘getting all the work done…’ • In schools where strong emphasis has been placed on the consistent use of outcomes pupils are increasingly relating progress to the learning that is reviewed in the plenary. • Pupils have expressed concern that opportunities are not provided to make use of formative feedback. • When they are given the opportunity pupils find well planned peer and self assessment both enjoyable and useful. In interviews no pupils have been critical of this AfL strategy. • What are subject leaders saying about AfL? • There is increasing confidence amongst subject leaders that objectives are providing a shared purpose to lessons. (Teachers appear more confident than pupils that they are being used.) • There is less confidence that pupils can articulate their learning at the end of a lesson. (Pupils are provided with the purpose of the learning but are less likely to appreciate what they need to do to demonstrate success.) • There is a general feeling that feedback provided by teachers is frequent and purposeful. • There is less confidence that pupils are provided with opportunities to meaningfully reflect and respond to the feedback provided. • There are pockets of good practice using peer and self assessment - still yet to be extended across departments or the whole school. • Summary of findings from pupil interviews and subject review returns Dorset LEA 2004-2005

  2. Pupils talk about Assessment for Learning • In the last year almost two hundred pupils have been interviewed across Dorset. Below are some of the things pupils have said about AfL and the things that teachers do to help them learn. • “(Good) learning objectives tell you what you should get from doing a task… bad objectives just tell you the stuff you have to do” • “Objectives are important because you push yourself to achieve them and they stop things being pointless…” • “I like them (the objectives,) they make me more attentive, I want to know what answers I should be looking for…’ • “Good teachers help me to remember important things I still need to work on,” • “I like getting ‘now tasks’ in my book. You can’t ignore the marking anymore because you always go back and do something with it” • “It’s best when we have to do all of it (the learning). If it is just the teacher talking for ages they do all the work and we don’t have to do a thing apart from mess around!” What do we mean by encouraging the active use of objectives and outcomes? If you read the comments from pupils on the left it is apparent that objectives have the greatest impact on pupils’ learning when teachers use them actively across the lesson. This might simply involve discussing them with pupils at the start to check everyone understands what they mean. Alternatively it may mean using a number of other techniques. The table below offers some possible verbal prompts that could be used with pupils. If learning objectives are being used successfully in lessons pupils will be able to answer these three questions if you asked them. They are: 1. What are you learning in today’s lesson. 2. Why do you need to learn this? 3. How will you know if you have been successful in the lesson? In many of the pupil interviews when AfL was being launched in schools pupils often answered these types of questions by saying that they knew they were successful because they ‘got all the work done.’ This highlights the need to make pupils aware that they do work in order to learn something. Task based objectives give pupils no real sense of progress in their learning. Equally ‘finishing all the work’ is not an end in itself. It is hoped that pupils can begin to respond with ‘we are doing task X so that I am able to/have learnt about Y.’ In order to be able to respond to question 3 it is vital that pupils get a chance to review their progress – hence the vital importance of the plenary in lessons. Making more active use of learning objectives – some suggested prompts 2

  3. What do we mean by FORMATIVE feedback? • Formative feedback involves the things a teacher writes or says to pupils that can inform learning. If a teacher says “you’ve done a really good job there, I’m really pleased with the work you’ve put in Joe…” the comment is SUMMATIVE- it is simply making a concluding statement. It may motivate the pupil but it does little to help them to move forward in their learning. • For this to become a formative comment the teacher needs to add a question or offer guidance suggesting what the Joe might do next. For example “you’ve done a really good job there, I’m really pleased with the work you’ve put in Joe… NOW could you highlight the keywords you included in your writing, that way they can be in your book as a reminder for next weeks lesson…” • Alternatively the formative feedback could seek to fix a key skill in the mind of a pupil that they will need to call upon in a later lesson. This would mean that the teacher says: “you’ve done a really good job there, I’m really pleased with the work you’ve put in Joe… can you pick out three things that you did that helped you to be successful today which you need to remember in the future…” • Other comments that can be said (or for that matter written) include: • “What helped you to be successful today?” • “What do you need to remember the next time you….?” • “What part of this was most difficult? …Why? And…how can you get over this type of problem?” • “What are the golden rules you need to remember when you…” • “Write a note to yourself picking out the key skills/ words/ advice that helped you today. We will look back at your comments when we do something similar later in the term.” • Formative feedback takes time; it therefore needs to be planned for and targeted. Working sustainably – setting milestones It is impossible to give high quality feedback to pupils all the time. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Good teachers work sustainably, they target lessons, classes and sometimes, pupils with specific feedback. Essentially, they pick the times when giving feedback will have the greatest impact on pupils’ learning. The AfL materials recommend setting milestones when giving high quality feedback. A milestone represents work where pupils should demonstrate some fundamental learning. These milestones may be passed with differing frequency depending upon the subject. Some subjects see pupils more frequently than in other subjects so it follows that you will get formative feedback more frequently in English than in RE. (It all balances out since RE teachers see many more pupils each week than a colleague in English!) Milestones need to be identified in medium term planning and all teachers in a subject should focus feedback around them. A final (possibly controversial) point – research consistently shows that feedback has the greatest impact when pupils make use of it (see ‘Working inside the Blackbox’ by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam). So, does this mean that the milestone feedback will be best before they undertake an assessment? Feedback might be given when pupils practice certain key skills prior to undertaking a task where the outcome is levelled. Following this means that when pupils undertake an assessment which generates a level that is all the teacher needs to report; any other comments are essentially redundant. (Unless of course the feedback will relate to a comparable task later in the term.) If you are looking to improve feedback by first setting these milestones see the AfL subject materials on Unit 4.2 for further, more detailed guidance. 3

  4. Written Feedback - Keeping it comment only… • ‘Whilst pupils’ learning can be advanced by feedback through comments, the giving of marks or grades has a negative effect in that pupils ignore comments when marks are also given’ Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam – Working inside the Blackbox. • Compelling research (that dates back to the 1980s!!!) shows that where teachers give pupils comments and grades this has no impact on progress. However in research comment only feedback significantly improved pupil performance. This has major implications for the marking we do as teachers. Things to consider: • Producing good qualitative comments advising pupils on what they have done well and what they need to do next to improve takes time. For it to happen teachers will inevitably mark pupils’ work less frequently. (It’s about quality not quantity). Interestingly in schools where this approach has been adopted feedback from parents is actually supportive – they like seeing the actions their kids need to take to progress rather than seeing a stream of numbers, levels or grades they don’t understand! • Pupils must be told that the feedback they get will have to be made use of. Pupils need to see that they should take greater responsibility for their own learning. The teacher needs to be absolutely upfront about any change in approach. • If pupils need to know grades or levels give them out - but it may be best to issue them without feedback. Alternatively, invite pupils to ask you for their grades or levels. • For feedback to improve pupils’ attainment it needs to be precise. There is little point in telling a pupil to ‘include more detail’ or to ‘be neater’. These kinds of comments are essentially superficial and pointless. Pupils will only be able to include more detail if they are guided on how they can actually do it. • The best comment only feedback gives small precise actions that often relate to learning objectives. Below are some examples of effective feedback given by teachers in a variety of subjects.! 4