Developing the theory of formative assessment

  • Paul BlackEmail author
  • Dylan Wiliam


Whilst many definitions of formative assessment have been offered, there is no clear rationale to define and delimit it within broader theories of pedagogy. This paper aims to offer such a rationale, within a framework which can also unify the diverse set of practices which have been described as formative. The analysis is used to relate formative assessment both to other pedagogic initiatives, notably cognitive acceleration and dynamic assessment, and to some of the existing literature on models of self-regulated learning and on classroom discourse. This framework should indicate potentially fruitful lines for further enquiry, whilst at the same time opening up new ways of helping teachers to implement formative practices more effectively.


Formative assessment Assessment for learning Dynamic assessment Self-regulation Instruction Pedagogy Cognitive acceleration Dialogue 


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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education and Professional StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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