Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 151-176

First online:

Formative Assessment in the Classroom: Where Psychological Theory Meets Social Practice

  • John PryorAffiliated withUniversity of Sussex
  • , Harry TorranceAffiliated withUniversity of Sussex

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The paper relates literature on formative assessment to relevant literature in the field of achievement motivation and then subjects both to scrutiny by analysing video transcript data of how teachers and students interact in the context of routine assessment ''events.'' The paper represents a critique of approaches to formative assessment where the complexity of the situation is minimized and interaction is seen in purely cognitive terms. It suggests that an attempt to understand formative assessment must involve a critical combination and co-ordination of insights derived from a number of psychological and sociological standpoints, none of which by themselves provide a sufficient basis for analysis, and that such considerations need to be contextualized in the actual social setting of the classroom.