د/ايمان زغلول قاسم

استاذ تكنولوجيا التعليم المساعد بكلية التربية بالزلفي

book B4

An assessment functions formatively to the extent that evidence about student
achievement elicited by the assessment is interpreted, and used to make decisions that
are likely to be better, or about founded, then the decisions that would have been taken
in the absence of the evidence. (Wiliam, et al., 2013, p. 9)
Black and Wiliam (1998c) argued that even though an assessment can be formative in
purpose, it does not necessarily serve a formative function. Although it is reasonable to
assume that for formative assessment to have an effect on learning, the evidence must be
used, it is also warranted to define as formative assessments that are intended to provide
information that can be used to steer future learning. This puts the focus on the purpose,
instead of the actual use of the test results. Moreover, it is not clear when, how, by whom, and
for which purposes the evidence about student learning should be used in order to qualify as
formative assessment. The many phases in the evaluative cycle that characterises educational
measurement (Bennett, 2011) are often not fully or not correctly completed (Young & Kim,
2010). Interpreting evidence, making decisions, and subsequently acting on these decisions
are distinct steps in the evaluative cycle. In many cases, the actor does not reach the stage of
actually using the results to take action. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to find out if and
how assessment results are actually being used. Hence, a definition in which the actual use is
formulated as a precondition of applying the term formative leads to blurred boundaries
instead of a clarified definition. Thus, it is useful to make a distinction between formative
assessment (in which the formative potentials may or may not be utilised fully), and effective
formative assessment. The latter indicates that the information gathered is correctly
interpreted, from which justified inferences may be drawn and subsequently inform decisions
that are the basis of actions that effectively adapt the learning environment to the student‘s
needs.
In addition, many of the discussions regarding the meaning of formative assessment
have evolved around whether it is a process or an instrument. Making such an explicit
distinction is not very helpful, however, because both the process and instruments used, as
well as the thoughtful interplay between the two, are essential in effectively supporting
student learning (Bennett, 2011). Nevertheless, although coherence between the process and
instruments is necessary for formative purposes, the process is not always independent of the
instruments used. Namely, in many computer-based formative assessments, feedback is
embedded and is provided directly to the learner without the intervention of the teacher. Thus,
in this case, the process is inherent in the instrument although the feedback provided may not
be used, but at least this was the developer‘s intention.
Because a wide array of practices was referred to as formative, and the meaning was
not clear, scholars from the UK (Assessment Reform Group [ARG], 1999) posited the term
assessment for learning (AfL), in contrast to assessment of learning. AfL is an approach to
assessment that focuses on the quality of the learning process, instead of merely on students‘
(final) learning outcomes (Stobart, 2008). Although the use of the new terminology was
intended to clarify the meaning of formative assessment, the degree to which clarification has
taken place is questionable (Bennett, 2011). For example, a recent paper was entitled ―What is
assessment for learning?‖ (see Wiliam, 2011).

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