Assessment is defined by a number of researchers over the past
years. Hanna & Dettmer (2004) define assessment as the process of gathering
data. More specifically, “assessment is the ways instructors gather data about
their teaching and their students’ learning”.

P. Black & D. Wiliam (1998) say that: “the term ‘assessment’
refers to all those activities undertaken by teacher, and by their students in
assessing themselves, which provide information to be used as feedback to
modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged”. Black
(2003) also adds that assessment occurs not one, but several times during a
lesson therefore it is an “integral and intimate part of a teacher daily work”.

Sadler (1989) talks about assessment for learning as an assessment
that “is concerned with how judgment about the quality of student responses
(performances, pieces, or works) can be used to shape and improve the student’s
competence by short-circuiting the randomness and inefficiency of trial-and
-error learning”.

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Tunstall
& Gipps (1996) have a similar opinion when saying that formative assessment
is a ‘process of appraising, judging or evaluating students’ work or
performance and using this to shape and improve their competence. In everyday
classroom terms this means teachers using their judgments of children’s
knowledge or understanding to feed back into the teaching process and to determine
for individual children whether to re-explain the task/concept, to give further
practice on it, or move on the next stage’.

In view of
the definitions given above, assessment for learning can be described as a
process of evaluating and judging students’ performance and providing feedback to
improve the learning process. The feedback is used not only to assess, but to modify
the teaching techniques to meet the learning needs, so that the instructor can
evaluate the student’s needs and adapt the teaching towards the improvement of
the student competencies.

 

1.       Formative and Summative Assessment.

The assessment during the learning process or formative assessment
is a term that was introduce in 1967 by M. Scriven to refer to the procedures
used by the professors with the aim of adapting the didactic process to the
progresses and learning needs observed in their pupils. This type of assessment
is carried out during the development of the teaching-learning process, while
learning is taking place and while learning is occurring, so any deficiencies can
be spotted when is still possible to solve them. In this way the learning
progress keeps improving and adapting to the needs of the group, optimizing the
probabilities of success of the students.

For Melmer et al (2008), the formative assessment is a procedure
used by teachers and students, during the teaching-learning process, which provides necessary information to make the
adjustments that are required, so that the students achieve the objectives,
curricular contents or proposed competences in the didactic planning. While
Dunn and Mulvenon (2009), consider it as a range of evaluation procedures,
integrated into the teaching-learning process, aiming to modify, improve and
understand the learning by the students.

From the above,
it is concluded that the purpose of the formative evaluation is to inform the student
about the achievements obtained, the difficulties or limitations observed in
their performance. At the same time, it allows the teacher to search and implement
new educational strategies that favor and respond to skills, abilities, competences,
attitudes or values ??that students intend to develop during the learning
process. Some examples of formative assessment are: questioning, peer/self-assessment,
plenaries, homework, discussion, kinesthetic assessment, etc.

Summative assessment, on the other hand, analyse the results
obtained at the end of the teaching-learning process, that means at the end of
the academic year, but also at the end of each term or at the end of a unit. It
assesses the learning results and, therefore, the procedures and tools used
must provide significant information about what the students have learnt, to be
able to determine if they have acquired the previous capacities according to
the competences. Summative
assessment is more product-oriented and assesses the final product, whereas
formative assessment focuses on the process that leads to the product.  Exams,
final projects or essays, final grades, etc. are some of the example of a
summative assessment.

2.      
The importance of assessment for learning.

The development
of confidence is one of the main benefits of the use of assessment, the
development of the student’s self-efficacy, their optimism and resilience. This
is an essential quality for the learners to acquire, self-confidence will help
them to succeed in the future, in their both professional and personal lives. For
all these reasons it is so important for the teachers to encourage students’
confidence, for example throughout the feedback. A poor mark can be demoralizing,
but if it includes a positive feedback that is focused on the work, this will
encourage every learner to feel that they can progress and improve their
results. P. Black & D. Wiliam (1998) say “What is needed is a culture
of success, backed by a belief that all pupils can achieve”, they also mention that
a good feedback should avoid comparisons and should be personalised, with
advice on how that student can improve. Verbal and writing feedback is vital at
the time of improving the learner confidence.

Assessment for
learning can significantly improve attainment and achievement, precisely
because it encourages the learner to take personal responsibility for the
learning, a good AfL increases independence. Throughout techniques like self-assessment
students will develop the capacity to assess themselves and, therefore, to take
responsibility of their own learning as well as become more active in the
classroom. As the independent learning is develop and students are more self-sufficient,
the teacher will also have more time to talk to the students individually.

An effective formative assessment will also improve learners’
outcomes. Having a clear idea of what they need to do to accomplish a standard and
how a good work looks like is easier to achieve success.

Lastly, an AfL approach
changes the culture of the classroom, it helps to create a cooperative and
supportive environment where everybody should be able to express new ideas without
feeling like they might fail, or they might be judged.

 

3.       Assessment
for learning at The Belvedere Academy.

Since I started my placement at The Belvedere
Academy I have observed several Spanish lessons at KS3 and KS4. Although each
teacher has its own teaching style, in general the school encourage the
formative assessment making use of a huge range of activities and techniques to
support the students’ improvement not only within the subject, but in general…….

In KS3 is fundamental to encourage peer and
self-assessment and with it, as mention above, the student self-confidence. Is
vital in these early years that teacher promote and independent learning,
giving them the right tools they will promptly get use to be critical with
themselves???

KS4 and 5 more focus on questioning. In al the
stages, but more use for this years, the key is to elicit information from the
students, make them think rather than give them the answer. It is important to
be patient, to give them time to think, otherwise they won’t be able to give an
answer, there is not possibility that a pupil can think out what to say. There
is another consequence, the pupils won’t even try to think out a response
because they know that the answer, followed by another question, will come in a
few seconds. What is the point in trying? It is also generally the case that the
questions are answered always by the same students, problem that can be solved
getting them to work in pairs or groups. Using questioning as a formative technique
is not an easy task, but when is well effectuated, is an essential tool for
teaching. To resume, ‘the dialogue between pupils and teacher should be
thoughtful, reflective, focused to evoke and explore understanding, and
conducted so that all pupils have an opportunity to think and express their
ideas’ (P. Black & D. William, 1998, p. 12).

It is highly encouraged the work in groups as
a way of getting everybody to participate, not all the students feel confident
enough to rise a hand and speak in front of the class, in this way you make
sure that everybody participates. The teacher can walk around and check who is
participating and on task, and at the end just select a few people to answer. Pair
work is specially use to practice speaking, so again you can check better who
is on task and how is that person doing. A lesson must be dynamic and vary on
the type of activities, is because of this that in one lesson you will get the
students to work individually, in pairs and in groups, active lesson.

Another important way of assessing at
Belvedere is the use of plenaries and mini-plenaries, so the learning and
understanding of the lesson is checked not only at the end but during the
lesson. Frequently the lesson objectives or the outcomes are checked during the
lesson. At the end is usual to have a plenary activity, a little reflection
about different aspects of the lesson, in this way students can assess what
have they learnt on that lesson, and they aware of progress. All this plenaries
and mini-plenaries are fundamental for the teacher, clear evidence of the pupil
progress, if the lesson has worked or some parts need revising,….

Mini white boards, hands up, colored cards,
exit tickets…

In conclusion, in MFL is widely used the
formative assessment, making use of a variety of activities making sure that the
lessons are dynamic and engaging and, at the same time, the progress of the
students is being assessed constantly, to make sure that all the student are
achieving the objectives and there is a clear understanding of the subject.

 

 

 

4.      
Peer
and Self-assessment

It is generally agreed that self-assessment is the ability of
learners to evaluate their own work, and think about their own learning. Although
there are many definitions of the term, the definitions are, for the most part,
quite general. Rolheiser and Ross (2000) defined self-assessment as “students
judging the quality of their work, based on evidence and explicit criteria for
the purpose of doing better work in the future” (p. 3). Blatchford (1997)
described it as a specific element of student self-concept, that is, academic
achievement “involve(s) judgments of one’s own attainment in relation to other
children” (p. 2). This means however, that self-assessment is a more normative
judgment, which some may see as contrary to the concept of self-assessment. Other
definitions of self-assessment are focus on teachers’ classroom assessment
practices, having as a example Gronlund and Cameron (2004), whose accentuate
the importance of formative assessment to “monitor learning progress and to
provide corrective prescriptions to improve learning” (p. 14). Montgomery
(2000) gives a similar definition of self-assessment as ” an appraisal by
a student of his or her own work or learning processes” (p. 5). From the
perspective of significant student learning, Kitsantas, Reisner and Doster
(2004) suggest that self-assessment judgments can improve achievement outcomes
and that performance leads to motivation and persistence in task completion. Supporting
this view, P. Black & D. Wiliam (1998) conclude that self-assessment is a
fundamental component of formative assessment when used to improve student
learning.

Peer-assessment has a somewhat different focus, for some
peer-assessment is technique on its own, but usually it is seen to be
complementary to self-assessment (Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall & Wiliam,
2004). Definitions of peer-assessment are quite varied, although generally is agree
that peer-assessment involves a student’s assessment of the performance or
success of another student. Peer-assessment has also been described as a
strategy involving students’ decisions about others’ work that would typically happen
when students work together on group projects or learning activities. To make
more effective peer-assessment activities, they should be programme as soon as
students begin learning a concept or skill and preferably before any skill
errors become habitual (Johnson, 2004). Teachers use self and peer-assessment
to increase learning: (1) to promote social interactions and trust in others,
(2) to facilitate individual feedback, (3) to promote student involvement in
the learning process, (4) to get the students to be focused on the process
rather than the product. Lastly, peer-assessment has benefits both for the person
who gives the feedback and for the person who receives the feedback. In
thinking through assess a piece of work, the students are forced to internalize
a success criteria and they are able to do it in the context of somebody else’s
work, which is less emotionally charged than your own (D. William).

Peer-assessment used as a formative assessment strategy is
very useful to get the students to work in groups, it can both positive
influence student achievement and improve the learning experience (Johnson,
2004). The work in group it also helps them to improve communication skills as
their talk and share their ideas, especially when, regarding the objectives,
they discuss about what has been done and what need to be done (p. Black,
2003). However, here we take the risk of pupils working not as a group but in group (P. Black 2007). In order to solve this problem, Dawes et
al. (2004) outline some rules to get the group to work creatively together: all
contributions must be treated with respect, a group must achieve consensus, all
the members must participate and finally, any assertion must be supported by
reasons. Johnson et al. (2000) conducted a statistical analysis of several
studies showing that, groups in which learners collaborate with each other achieve
a bigger success than groups in which the learners compete between each other.
Moreover, groups where competition come first show almost no learning advantage
over individual learning.

As the work in groups can become a problem if is not
controlled, trustworthiness and reliability is not one of the problems when using
peer or self-assessment. Lee (2006) outline that students are challenging and honest,
and accept better criticism by a peer than by the teacher. P. Black & D.
William (1998) agree saying that learners are generally honest with both
themselves and one another; they can even be too hard on themselves. But while reliability
is not a problem, it is the clear understanding of the targets, if the students
don’t understand clearly what are the objectives and what are they meant to
attain they won’t be able to assess their learning and they won’t be able to
achieve a learning goal. However, according to P. Black & D. Wiliam (1998),
most students are unaware of the learning objectives, they have gotten use to
receive classroom teaching as a random sequence of tasks that don’t follow an
organise learning structure. To change this situation is required hard and
constant work by the teachers, understanding criteria is often the most
difficult part. Once the learners have an understanding of the learning targets
improvements can be done, the students will become more efficient and more
dedicated as learners. These improvements will resolve in assessments that can
become an object of discussion with their teachers or their peers, and this
discussion will lead to a self-reflection that is fundamental for a good
learning (P. Black & D. William, 1998).

By giving learner independence, they take responsibility for
their own learning. To achieve success in a peer-assessment session the students
need to think like they are teachers for each other and, using the success
criteria, evaluate each other work. Once the learners have evaluated a work on
their own, is time to give to their partners feedback and ideas on how to
improve the work. With this kind of task, both learners will improve their understanding
of how to achieve success and produce a good piece of work. The student becomes
‘independent and confident learner’ (Brookhart, Andolina, Zuza, & Furman,
2004, p. 214). Peer and self-assessment also helps learners to use higher-level
skills such as thinking critically and analytically and to develop their social
and communication skills, which are essential in many aspects of the future life. 

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