د/ايمان زغلول قاسم

استاذ تكنولوجيا التعليم المشارك بكلية التربية بالزلفي

book B92

7.1 Introduction
The complex interdependencies amongst learning, teaching, and assessment are
increasingly being recognised. Assessment encompasses the use of a broad spectrum of
instruments for gathering information about student learning, such as paper-and-pencil tests,
projects, or observations (Stobart, 2008). In education, a distinction is made between
summative assessment and formative assessment.
Whenever assessment results play a role in making (part of) a decision about the
mastery of a defined content domain, it fulfils a summative function, for example, in making a
decision regarding selection, classification, certification, or placement (Sanders, 2011). If
assessment results are used to steer the learning process, assessment fulfils a formative
function. Summative and formative assessments are not mutually exclusive in their purposes;
they can coexist as primary and secondary purposes of the same assessment (Bennett, 2011).
The effectiveness of formative assessment is widely acknowledged. However, these
effectiveness claims are not always well grounded, which is, amongst other things, caused by
the lack of a uniform definition of the concept of formative assessment (Bennett, 2011).
Formative assessment can be seen as an umbrella term that covers various approaches to
assessment that have different underlying learning theories (Briggs, Ruiz-Primo, Furtak,
Shepard, & Yin, 2012). The term approach captures the underlying principles and intentions
that shape particular assessment uses.
Furthermore, it is helpful to make a distinction between formative evaluation and
formative assessment (Harlen, 2007; Shepard, 2005). The term formative evaluation refers to
the use of assessment data to make decisions concerning the quality of education at a higher
aggregation level than the level of the learner or the class. Data that are at hand from
summative assessment can also be used for formative evaluation (e.g., the use of assessment
data for policy development at the school level). Formative assessment, on the contrary, only
concerns decisions at the levels of the learner and the class to accommodate the pupils‘
individual educational needs.
This study addresses the theoretical differences and similarities amongst three
approaches to formative assessment that are currently most frequently discussed in
educational research literature. The main feature that these approaches have in common is that
the evidence gathered using assessments is interpreted and subsequently used to change the
learning environment in order to meet learners‘ needs (Wiliam, 2011). However, the way
student learning is defined differs within each approach. The first approach is data-based
decision making (DBDM), which originated in the USA as a direct consequence of the No
Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which defines improving students‘ learning outcomes in
terms of results and attaining specified targets (Wayman, Spikes, & Volonnino, 2013).
Second, assessment for learning (AfL), originally introduced by scholars from the UK
(Assessment Reform Group [ARG], 1999), is an assessment approach that focuses on the
quality of the learning process, rather than merely on students‘ (final) learning outcomes
(Stobart, 2008). Finally, diagnostic testing (DT) was initially used to refer students to special
education, particularly those diagnosed as unable to participate in mainstream educational
settings (Stobart, 2008). In DT, detailed assessment data about a learner‘s problem solving are
Data-Based Decision Making, Assessment for Learning, and Diagnostic Testing in Formative
Assessment
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collected to explain his or her learning process and learning outcomes (Crisp, 2012; Keeley &
Tobey, 2011).

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