د/ايمان زغلول قاسم

استاذ تكنولوجيا التعليم المشارك بكلية التربية بالزلفي

book B97

7.2.3 Theoretical Underpinnings of AfL
Assessment for learning (AfL) was originally introduced by UK scholars as a
resistance to the emphasis on summative uses of assessments (Stobart, 2008). This approach
focuses specifically on the quality of the learning process instead of on its outcomes.
Moreover, ―it puts the focus on what is being learned and on the quality of classroom
interactions and relationships‖ (Stobart, 2008, p. 145).
The ARG defined AfL as ―… the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use
by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they
need to go and how best to get there‖ (2002, p. 2). However, this definition was often
misinterpreted (Johnson & Burdett, 2010; Klenowski, 2009). For this reason, Klenowski
(2009) reported on what she referred to as a ―second-generation definition‖ of AfL, which
will be used in this chapter: ―part of everyday practice by students, teachers and peers that
seeks, reflects upon and responds to information from dialogue, demonstration and
observation in ways that enhance ongoing learning‖ (p. 264).
Hargreaves (2005) concluded that there are two approaches within AfL, a
measurement and an inquiry approach. In the measurement approach, AfL is viewed as an
activity that includes marking, monitoring, and showing a level. In this view, (quantitative)
data are used to formulate feedback and to inform decisions. Assessment is seen as a separate
activity from instruction that shows to what degree a predetermined level has been achieved.
This approach resembles the definition of DBDM. In the inquiry approach, AfL is a process
of discovering, reflecting, understanding, and reviewing. It is focused on the process, and
assessments are integrated into the learning process. Qualitative sources of information, such
as observations, demonstrations, and conversations, play an important role. In both
approaches, feedback is used to steer future learning. However, in the first approach, feedback
might be less immediate and feedback loops less frequent. The AfL approach described in this
study leans towards the inquiry approach, as described by Klenowski (2009).
In AfL literature, classroom dialogues are stressed as an important learning activity.
This idea is theoretically underpinned by meta-cognitivism, social cultural theory, and social
constructivism. Learning is seen as a social activity; learning occurs through interaction.
Thus, knowledge and skills are believed to depend on the context, and to exist in the
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relationships amongst the individuals involved in that context. As a result, assessment should
not be seen as an individual activity either (Elwood, 2006).
The AfL approach is aimed at the quality of the learning process instead of its
outcomes (e.g., a grade). This goal stimulates a learning-oriented rather than an outcomeoriented
classroom culture (Stobart, 2008). AfL makes it possible to anticipate weaker points
in the current learning process and identify further steps to take for improvement (ARG,
1999). Students have a central role in the learning process; as a result, they actively participate
in the evaluation of their own learning (Elwood & Klenowski, 2002). Furthermore, AfL aims
to increase learner autonomy, motivation, and reflection, by facilitating an inquiry-oriented
and interactive classroom climate (Klenowski, 2009).
7.2.4 Implementation of AfL: Aggregation Level, Assessment Methods, and Feedback
Loops
Aggregation level. The AfL approach takes place within the classroom; it concerns
decisions about the entire class or individual students. The information used to make
decisions is gathered from students.
Assessment methods. The data used to inform decisions can come from various
assessment sources, such as paper-and-pencil tests, dialogues, practical demonstrations of
learning, portfolios, peer assessment, or self-assessment (Gipps, 1994). Hence, the evidence
gathered about the learning process of the learners can be both qualitative and quantitative in
nature. These assessment events can be planned as well as unplanned, and formal and
informal. Continuous interactions between learners and the teacher characterise the process.
The quality of the assessment process depends largely on the degree of the teacher‘s
capability to obtain usable data about student learning, make inferences about student
learning, and translate this information into instructional decisions (Bennett, 2011). Thus, the
assessment quality depends on the degree to which assessment results provide actionable
information for formative purposes over the short term, which is a low-stakes type of use.
Nevertheless, teachers‘ inferences are likely to be biased to some extent (Bennett, 2011);
therefore, standardised assessments can be used once in a while to check on students‘ learning
outcomes in terms of overall curriculum goals and standards.

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