The idea that formative assessment or 'assessment for learning' can transform teaching and learning has become a mantra, and optimism in the 1980s and 1990s that outcome-based and competence-based assessment would widen methods and 'evidence' for showing achievement and motivate learners alienated from traditional approaches are now embedded in assessment systems, the inspection and professional development that supports them, and in teachers' own espoused theories of learning, teaching and assessment.
Yet not only is there widespread misunderstanding about what formative assessment really is but its distortion into highly instrumental forms of 'coaching to the criteria' is also endemic in post-compulsory education: students are undoubtedly 'achieving' 'participating' and 'engaging' but what are they really 'learning'? Based on an extensive, in-depth 2-year study of formative assessment in vocational education and Skills for Life programmes in literacy, language and numeracy, this book explores the purposes and effects of teachers' approaches to formative assessment in vocational education courses, key skills and 'Skills for Life' courses for adults, and the impact of their approaches on teaching, attitudes to learning and learning outcomes.
Through a series of case studies, the book highlights how factors in one learning context can conspire to make feedback and other forms of formative assessment highly instrumental, whilst in others this can be a springboard to deep and meaningful learning. In some learning contexts, teachers have surrendered some of their previous confidence and beliefs to a more compliant approach and lower expectations of students than they might once have had. In others, teachers are highly instrumental and dominated by a target-driven institutional ethos. And in some, they remain upbeat and confident despite pressures with enthusiasm for a distinct subject, clear beliefs about educational purposes, and positive rather than diminished images of students and their potential.
These contrasts, together with an understanding of why they occur, offer a strong basis for challenging the worst excesses of instrumentalism and enabling teachers to identify which factors they can and cannot influence in order to make their formative assessment better.
Series: UK Higher Education OUP Humanities & Social Sciences Education OUP
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 248
Published: 15th October 2010
Publisher: Open University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.0 x 15.0
Weight (kg): 0.4
Edition Number: 1