22 SES 14 B, Making Formative Assessment and Feedback Processes and Practices Explicit
Improving the quality of formative assessment and feedback (FAF) is an international issue (Evans & Waring, 2011). To enhance FAF, the value of the social constructivist assessment process model, with its focus on the student as an active agent in the feedback process, is emphasized. Within such a model, Sadler (1989) argues the importance of self-regulation, with the student being able to acquire a knowledge of the standards required so as to be able to compare those standards to his/her own work to enable a closing of the gap between the two. To support student understanding of assessment processes, the importance of explicit training for students in how to interpret and use feedback is advocated (Rust et al., 2005; Sadler, 2010). However, the amount of support offered to students can be seen as contentious in that this may be seen to work against independent learning (Mc Queen, 2009). What is needed is a re-conceptualization of what self-regulated learning encompasses taking into account notions of joint agency (student and teacher) as well as the varying starting points and abilities of learners and teachers to manage their learning/teaching transitions within and across programmes, and institutions.
This symposium, involves four contributors from three different countries, and from teacher education perspectives. We will explore a number of explicit approaches that have been developed to facilitate student understanding of the requirements of assessment within both school and higher education contexts.
One of the aims of our symposium is to bridge the higher education and school gap in relation to work on FAF. Whilst we acknowledge differences between the sectors including specific contextual demands (Sadler, 2010), there are a number of overarching principles relevant to all those engaged in enhancing learning and teaching through a focus on assessment practices. Black and McCormick (2010) comment on the vast wealth of literature on FAF within schools that is of value to higher education, conversely, it could be argued that there is much work being undertaken in HEIs in developing assessment feedback practice that is of direct relevance to schools (Evans & Waring, 2012), and that in facilitating student transitions across the sectors, it is vital to develop collaborative practice within this area.
In exploring the approaches/tools used by the contributors (Smit, Doig, Evans, and Scott), to enhance FAF, it is possible to tease out a number of themes that will be discussed within the symposium. These include:
(i) Importance of developing teacher understanding and training in assessment feedback practices as well as those of students;
(ii) The extent to which by making assessment criteria explicit, the nature and overall quality of learning is enhanced or diminished by such an emphasis;
(iii) The utility of large-scale assessment systems in supporting formative assessment practice in relation to interpretation and practical application;
(iv) Student belief systems in relation to the value of peer assessment – supporting individual differences through differentiated assessment feedback practice;
(v) The use of specific tools and their integration into pedagogic practices to support the development of student self-regulation.
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