Developing the theory of formative assessment

Paul Black, Dylan Wiliam
2009 Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability  
Whilst many definitions of formative assessment have been offered, there is no clear rationale to define and delimit it within broader theories of pedagogy. This paper aims to offer such a rationale, within a framework which can also unify the diverse set of practices which have been described as formative. The analysis is used to relate formative assessment both to other pedagogic initiatives, notably cognitive acceleration and dynamic assessment, and to some of the existing literature on
more » ... s of self-regulated learning and on classroom discourse. This framework should indicate potentially fruitful lines for further enquiry, whilst at the same time opening up new ways of helping teachers to implement formative practices more effectively. Revise of 3 rd November 08 collected from classroom observations and interviews with teachers, and no systematic attempt was made to connect these data to work on such topics as classroom practice, or the regulation of learning. Other recent work has focused on aspects of implementation, notably on effecting change with communities of teachers ) and on problems of superficial adoption (Black, 2007) , whilst both the book by Black et al. (2003) and the studies of the project on "Learning how to learn" (James et al., 2007) have discussed the learning practice underlying formative practices In the conclusion of our 2006 article, we raised the wider issue of the role of formative assessment: Thus, whilst we cannot argue that development of formative assessment is the only way, or even the best way, to open up a broader range of desirable changes in classroom learning, we can see that it may be peculiarly effective, in part because the quality of interactive feedback is a critical feature in determining the quality of learning activity, and is therefore a central feature of pedagogy. (p.100) This introduces our second aim in this paper, which is to locate formative interactions within more comprehensive theories of pedagogy. Perrenoud (1998), commenting on our 1998 review, further emphasised the need to place any treatment in a broader context of studies of formative assessment: This [feedback] no longer seems to me, however, to be the central issue. It would seem more important to concentrate on the theoretical models of learning and its regulation and their implementation. These constitute the real systems of thought and action, in which feedback is only one element. (p. 86) This expanded the agenda, for the issues that it raised require that a wider range of theories be considered, so that the concept of formative interaction may be enriched and contextualised in the light of relevant theories. This task of linking our analysis to other theoretical writing about learning interactions will be our third aim.
doi:10.1007/s11092-008-9068-5 fatcat:ceht57ozofgi5kt42gravoh7g4