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Assessment Of, For & As Learning – The Main Differences & Principles

assessment of, for & as learning

Assessment Of, For & As Learning – What are the Main Differences?

1. Assessment Of Learning

It involves looking at assessment information at the end of the teaching and learning process to rank students’ achievement levels against a standard. It is summative in nature and typically involves standardized tests.

Assessment OF learning scores are often used to move students from grade to higher one or from learning level to another based on their results of specified achievement tests – e.g., state tests.

The effectiveness of assessment of learning for grading or ranking depends on the validity and reliability of tests.

Assessment of learning is also known as summative assessment.

Summative Assessment

  • Made at the end of a unit of study to determine the level of understanding the student has achieved.
  • Includes a mark or grade against an expected standard.
  • Used to plan future learning goals and pathways for students
  • Provides evidence of achievement to the wider community, including parents, educators, the students themselves and outside groups.

Main Principles of Assessment Of Learning

  • Accompanied by a number or letter grade.
  • Compares one student’s achievement with standards.
  • Results can be communicated to the student and parents.
  • Occurs at the end of the learning unit.

2. Assessment For Learning

Assessment FOR learning embeds assessment processes throughout the teaching and learning process. It includes both quantitative and qualitative data.

During assessment for learning teachers know where their students are in terms of their learning and check their progress.

Students are guided on what they are expected to learn and what quality work looks like. As the unit progresses, the teacher and student work together to assess the student’s knowledge, what she or he needs to learn to improve and extend this knowledge, and how the student can best get to that point (formative assessment). Assessment for learning occurs at all stages of the learning process.

The ultimate purpose of assessment for learning is to create self-regulated learners who can leave school able and confident to continue learning throughout their lives.

Assessment for learning is also known as formative assessment.

Formative Assessment

  • Made to determine students’ knowledge and skills as they progress through a unit of study.
  • Used to guide learning.
  • Occurs during the course of a unit of study.

Main Principles of Assessment For Learning

  • Includes initial or diagnostic assessment and formative assessment.
  • Based on a variety of information sources (e.g., portfolios, works in progress, teacher observation, conversation).
  • Provides descriptive verbal or written feedback that primarily emphasizes student strengths, identifies challenges, and points to the next steps to take.
  • Keep students on track.
  • No grades or scores are given – record-keeping is primarily descriptive.
  • Occurs throughout the learning process, from the outset of the course of study to the time of summative assessment.
  • Involves students in their own learning.
  • Encourages self-assessment and peer assessment as part of the regular classroom routines.
  • Reflects a view of learning that helps students learn better, rather than just achieve a better mark.
  • Involves formal and informal assessment activities as part of  learning and inform the planning of future learning.
  • Represents a detailed analysis of a student’s work.

Assessment For Learning Strategies

Research has identified a number of classroom strategies that are particularly effective in promoting Assessment For Learning such as:

1. The Strategic Use of Questioning

Questioning is used to find out what students know, understand and are able to do.

2. Effective Teacher Feedback

Effective teacher feedback tells the students what they have achieved and where they need to improve. Importantly, the feedback provides specific suggestions about how that improvement might be achieved.

3. Peer Feedback

Peer feedback occurs when a student tells another student what they have achieved and where improvement is necessary. Again, the feedback provides specific suggestions to help achieve improvement.

4. Student Self-Assessment

Student self-assessment encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning. It incorporates self-monitoring, self-assessment and self-evaluation.

5. The Formative Use of Summative Assessment

Summative assessment is a necessary aspect of education. Formative use can be made of summative assessment, both before and after the assessment event.

Benefits of Assessment For Learning

For teachers

Assessment for learning helps teachers gather information to:

  • Plan and modify teaching and learning programs for individual students, groups of students, and the class as a whole.
  • Pinpoint students’ strengths so that both teachers and students can build on them.
  • Identify students’ learning needs in a clear and constructive way so they can be addressed.
  • Involve parents in their children’s learning.

For students

Assessment for learning provides students with information and guidance so they can plan and manage the next steps in their learning.

It uses information to lead from what has been learned to what needs to be learned next.

3. Assessment As Learning

It occurs when students are their own assessors, when they monitor their own learning, ask questions and use a range of strategies to decide what they know and can do, and how to use assessment for new learning.

Principles of Assessment As Learning

  • Encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Requires students to ask questions about their learning.
  • Involves teachers and students creating learning goals to encourage growth and development.
  • Provides ways for students to use formal and informal feedback to help them understand the next steps in learning.
  • Encourages peer assessment, self-assessment and reflection.
  • Begins as soon as students become aware of the goals of instruction and the criteria for performance.
  • Involves goal-setting, monitoring progress, and reflecting on results.
  • Occurs throughout the learning process.

Final Word

Assessment is a powerful process. As a result, it can either optimize or inhibit learning, depending on how it’s applied.

What matters most is not so much the form of the assessment, but how the teacher uses the information available to improve teaching and learning. To achieve this goal assessment should be authentic.

Authentic Assessment

  • Based on content or media in which the students actually have a genuine interest.
  • Engages students in real-life activities.
  • Asks students to synthesize information and use critical-thinking skills.
  • Measures not just what students remember but how they think.
  • Helps students understand where they are academically.
  • Helps teachers know how to best teach their students.

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