Exploring formative assessment in primary school classrooms: Developing a framework of actions and strategies

Article

Abstract

The importance of formative assessment in facilitating student learning has been well established in the literature. However, defining and implementing formative assessment in classroom settings is a rather complicated task. The aim of this study is to explore formative assessment, as implemented in primary classrooms in Cyprus, and develop a framework of action for analysing and understanding formative assessment processes. The research was qualitative, interpretive, collaborative, and guided by the ethics of care. Four primary school teachers of the third and fourth grade participated in the study. The teachers differ in their teaching experience and gender. Data collection was based on non-participant classroom observations, teachers’ interviews and documentary analysis of children’s work for written feedback. The analysis of the data was carried out using the constant comparative method and revealed five distinctive processes of formative assessment: (a) Articulation/communication of expectancies and success criteria, (b) Elicitation and collection of information, (c) Interpretation of information/judgement, (d) Providing feedback, and (e) Taking action/regulation of learning. The analysis also pointed the confusions arising from the various interpretations of the concept and the difficulties in implementing effectively formative assessment in classroom settings. Implications of the findings for policy and practice are drawn and suggestions for further research are finally provided.

Keywords

Pupil assessment Formative assessment Assessment for learning Assessment framework Assessment practices 

References

  1. Airasian, P. W. (1991). Classroom assessment. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  2. Allal, L., & Pelgrims Ducrey, G. (2000). Assessment of—or in—the zone of proximal development. Learning and Instruction, 10(2), 137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antoniou, P., & Kyriakides, L. (2011). The impact of a dynamic approach to professional development on teacher instruction and student learning: results from an experimental study. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 22(3), 291–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Antoniou, P., & Kyriakides, L. (2013). A dynamic integrated approach to teacher professional development: impact and sustainability of the effects on improving teacher behavior and student outcomes. Teaching and Teacher Education, 29(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Assessment Reform Group (2002). Assessment for learning: 10 principles. Available on the Assessment Reform Group web-site : www.assessment-reform-group.org.uk.
  6. Bachor, D. G., & Anderson, J. O. (1994). Elementary teachers’ assessment practices as observed in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Assessment in Education, 1(1), 63–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baird, J.-A. (2010). Beliefs and practice in teacher assessment. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 17(1), 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bell, B., & Cowie, B. (2001). Formative assessment and science education. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  9. Bennett, R. E. (2011). Formative assessment: a critical review. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 18(1), 5–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Black, P. (1996). Formative assessment and the improvement of learning. British Journal of Special Education, 23(2), 51–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Black, P. (1998). Formative assessment: raising standards inside the classroom. School Science Review, 80(291), 39–46.Google Scholar
  12. Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education, 5(1), 7–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2006). Developing a theory of formative assessment. In J. Gardner (Ed.), Assessment and learning (pp. 81–100). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2009). Developing a theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21(1), 5–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Black, P., & William, D. (2003). In praise of educational research: formative assessment. British Educational Research Journal, 29(5), 623–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2003). Assessment for learning: putting it into practice. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Brookhart, S. M. (2001). Successful students’ formative and summative uses of assessment information. Assessment in Education, 8(2), 153–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Brookhart, S. M. (2010). Formative assessment strategies for every classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria: ASCD.Google Scholar
  19. Christoforidou, M., Kyriakides, L., Antoniou, P. & Creemers, B. P. M. (2013). Searching for stages of teacher’s skills in assessment. Studies in Educational Evaluation. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.11.006.
  20. Council, N. R. (1996). National science education standards. Washington: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  21. Cowie, B., & Bell, B. (1999). A model of formative assessment in science education. Assessment in Education, 6(1), 101–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Creemers, B. P. M., Kyriakides, L., & Antoniou, P. (2012). Teacher professional development for improving quality of teaching. Springer Publishing, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  23. Darling-Hammond, L. (2004). Standards, accountability, and school reform. Teachers College Record, 106(6), 1047–1085.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Earl, L. (2003). Assessment as learning. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.Google Scholar
  25. Earl, L., & Katz, S. (2000). Changing classroom assessment: teachers’ struggles. In N. Bascia and A. Hargreaves (Eds.), The sharp edge of educational change: Teaching, leading and the realities of reform. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
  26. Fontana, D., & Fernandes, M. (1994). Improvements in mathematics performance as a consequence of self-assessment in Portuguese primary school pupils. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 64, 407–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gattullo, F. (2000). Formative assessment in ELT primary (elementary) classrooms: an Italian case study. Language Testing, 17(2), 278–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  29. Hall, K., & Burke, W. (2003). Making formative assessment work: effective practice in the primary classroom. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hargreaves, D. (2004). Personalizing learning 2: student voice and assessment for learning. London: Specialist Schools Trust.Google Scholar
  31. Harlen, W. (2007). Assessment of learning. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Harlen, W., & James, M. (1997). Assessment and learning: differences and relationships between formative and summative assessment. Assessment in Education, 4(3), 365–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. James, M. (2006). Assessment, teaching and theories of learning. In J. Gardner (Ed.), Assessment and learning (pp. 45–60). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. James, M., & Pedder, D. (2005). Professional learning as a condition for assessment for learning. In J. Gardner (Ed.), Assessment and learning (pp. 27–44). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. James, M., & Pedder, D. (2006). Beyond method: assessment and learning practices and values. The Curriculum Journal, 17(2), 109–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. James, M., & Pollard, A. (2011). TLRP’s ten principles for effective pedagogy: rationale, development, evidence, argument and impact. Research Papers in Education, 26(3), 275–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. James, M., McCormick, R., Black, P., Carmichael, P., Drummond, M.-J., Fox, A., MacBeath, J., et al. (2007). Improving learning how to learn: classrooms, schools and networks. 3rd Ed, Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Klenowski, V. (2009). Assessment for learning revisited: an Asia-Pacific perspective. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 16(3), 263–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kyriakides, L. (1997). Influences on primary teachers’ practice: some problems for curriculum change theory. British Educational Research Journal, 23(1), 39–46.Google Scholar
  40. Kyriakides, L. (1999) Research on baseline assessment in mathematics at school entry, Assessment in Education: principles, policy and practice, 6(3), 357–375.Google Scholar
  41. Kyriakides, L. (2004). Investigating validity from teachers’ perspective through their engagement in large-scale assessment: the emergent literacy baseline assessment project. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 11(2), 143–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kyriakides, L., Creemers, B. P. M., & Antoniou, P. (2009). Teacher behaviour and student outcomes: suggestions for research on teacher training and professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(1), 12–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lock, C., & Munby, H. (2000). Changing assessment practices in the classroom: a study of one teacher’s challenge. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 46(3), 267–79Google Scholar
  44. MacPhail, A., & Halbert, J. (2005). The implementation of a revised physical education syllabus in ireland: circumstances, rewards and costs. European Physical Education Review, 11, 287–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Marshall, B., & Drummond, M. J. (2006). How teachers engage with assessment for learning: lessons from the classroom. Research Papers in Education, 21(2), 133–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Militello, M., Schweid, J., & Sireci, G. S. (2010). Formative assessment systems: evaluating the fit between school districts’ needs and assessment systems’ characteristics. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 22, 29–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ministry of Education and Culture. (2004). The new curriculum. Nicosia, Cyprus: Ministry of Education and Culture.Google Scholar
  48. Morgan, C. (1996). The teacher as examiner: the case of mathematics coursework. Assessment in Education, 3(3), 353–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.Google Scholar
  50. Office for Standards in Education. (1998). School evaluation matters (raising standards series). London: OFSTED.Google Scholar
  51. Pearson (2005). Achieving student progress with scientifically based formative assessment: A white paper from Pearson. http://www.pearsoned.com/RESRPTS_FOR_POSTING/PASeries_RESEARCH/PA1.%20Scientific_Basis_PASeries%206.05.pdf (accessed October 28, 2012).
  52. Pellegrino, J. W., Chudowsky, N., & Glaser, R. (2001). Knowing what students know: the science and design of educational assessment. Washington: National Research Council.Google Scholar
  53. Pollard, A., Broadfoot, P., Croll, P., Osborn, M., & Abott, D. (1994). Changing English primary schools: the impact of the education reform act at key stage one. London: Cassell.Google Scholar
  54. Popham, W. J. (2008). Transformative assessment. Alexandria: ASCD.Google Scholar
  55. Preece, P. F. W., & Skinner, M. C. (1999). The national assessment in science at Key Stage 3 in England and Wales and its impact on teaching and learning. Assessment in Education, 6(1), 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Richard, J. F., & Godbout, P. (2000). Formative assessment as an integral part of the teaching-learning process. Physical and Health Education Journal, 66(3), 4–13.Google Scholar
  57. Scriven, M. (1967). The methodology of evaluation. In R. W. Tyler, R. M. Gagne, & M. Scriven (Eds.), Perspectives of curriculum evaluation. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  58. Sebba, J. (2006). Policy and practice in assessment for learning: the experience of selected OECD countries. In J. Gardner (Ed.), Assessment for learning: policy and practice. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  59. Shavelson, R. J. (2008). Guest editor’s introduction. Applied Measurement in Education, 21(4), 293–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Shen, C. (2002). Revisiting the relationship between students’ achievement and their self-perceptions: a cross-national analysis based on TIMSS 1999 data. Assessment in Education, 9(2), 161–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Shepard, L. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shepard, L. A. (2008). Formative assessment: caveat emptor. In C. A. Dwyer (Ed.), The future of assessment: shaping teaching and learning (pp. 279–303). New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  63. Shipman, M. (1983). Assessment in primary and middle schools. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  64. Swaffield, S. (Ed.). (2008). Unlocking assessment: understanding for reflection and application. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  65. Torrance, H. (2001). Assessment for learning: developing formative assessment in the classroom, Education 3–13, 29, 3, pp. 26–32.Google Scholar
  66. Torrance, H., & Pryor, J. (1998). Investigating formative assessment, teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Torrance, H., & Pryor, J. (2001). Developing formative assessment in the classroom: using action research to explore and modify theory. British Educational Research Journal, 27(5), 615–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Webb, M. E., & Jones, J. (2009). Exploring tensions in developing assessment for learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 16(2), 165–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wiliam, D., & Thompson, M. (2008). Integrating assessment with learning: what will it take to make it work? In C. A. Dwyer (Ed.), The future of assessment: shaping teaching and learning (pp. 53–82). New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  70. Williams, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington: Solution Tree.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations