د/ايمان زغلول قاسم

استاذ تكنولوجيا التعليم المساعد بكلية التربية بالزلفي

book B101

Discussion
The DBDM, AfL, and DT approaches are all seen as powerful ways to support and
enhance student learning. Educational practice implements a mix of these approaches. The
differences amongst the implementation of assessment approaches stem from differences in
their theoretical underpinnings (Stobart, 2008). This study compared the similarities and
differences in the theoretical bases of DBDM, AfL, and DT. The differences and similarities
in implementing each approach were also explored.
Our comparison suggests that the original theoretical underpinnings of the approaches
differ in their definitions of learning. Nevertheless, all approaches increasingly recognise that
the assessment‘s focus should be both on the learning process and on learning outcomes.
Various assessment methods that are underpinned by different learning theories are needed to
fully grasp the complexity of learning at all levels. If one wants to use assessments or
evaluations formatively, one should acknowledge which learning mechanisms are applicable
for decision making at the school, class, or student level. Integrating the three assessment
approaches can lead to more valid formative decisions. Decisions are no longer based on a
single data type at one aggregation level, but on multiple data sources gathered from multiple
perspectives at different aggregation levels. Integrating the assessment approaches will enable
schools to capture various aspects of their curriculum and the different learning activities of
their students. Consequently, school staff will be able to continuously provide feedback at the
school, class, and individual levels, to guide and enhance student learning.
To blend the approaches, different feedback loops should be simultaneously active on
each level in schools. At the school level, DBDM can be used, for example, to monitor set
learning goals, to group students differently to enhance learning, and to improve the quality of
education. Moreover, DBDM can be applied to monitor student achievement goals at the class
level. Similarly, DBDM can be employed to monitor individual progress. The DBDM
approach is often connected to the use of standardised external assessments; therefore,
feedback loops usually extend over a longer period of time. The AfL approach can be used at
the class and individual levels to improve the quality of the learning process by engaging
learners to evaluate and reflect on their own learning, and steering the learning process
through continuous feedback. Finally, DT can be employed at the individual level to collect
fine-grained data about a student‘s zone of proximal development, prior knowledge, and
reasoning styles that can inform decisions on adapting the learning environment to the
learner‘s needs. Feedback loops occur irregularly; the frequency of DT and subsequent
feedback depends on the learner‘s needs. Thus, at different points in the education process,
retroactive, interactive, or proactive feedback loops can be used to optimise students‘ learning
processes.
Accountability is a complicating factor in blending the three approaches. Stakeholders
(e.g., the government or parents) hold schools, teachers, and students responsible for meeting
certain standards. Accountability decisions are based on summative assessment and
summative evaluation. Given the stakes of these decisions, using objective, reliable, and valid
data is desirable (Harlen, 2010). Data gathered for formative purposes, whether for DBDM,
AfL, or DT, should not be used for accountability purposes for the following reasons. First,
these data often do not meet the requirements needed for making accurate high-stakes
Data-Based Decision Making, Assessment for Learning, and Diagnostic Testing in Formative
Assessment
169
judgements. Second, high-accountability pressure often results in a narrow set of goals and
consequently, a limited use of assessment methods. It will be harder or even impossible for
teachers to implement DBDM, AfL, and DT because summative uses of assessments tend to
overshadow their formative uses. For example, high-accountability pressure may result in
strategic practices, such as teaching to the test and focusing all efforts on the bubble kids, who
are children on the threshold of passing the test (Booher-Jennings, 2005; Diamond & Spillane,
2004).

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