The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 33–50 | Cite as

What starts to happen to assessment when teachers learn about their children’s informal learning?

  • Roseanna BourkeEmail author
  • John O’Neill
  • Judith Loveridge


Classroom assessment practices are greatly influenced by national and local policies on assessment. Typically, these include accountability requirements for schools to evidence and report their students’ learning in the form of specific learning outcomes, calibrated against national benchmark standards of achievement and progression. An implication for teachers is that their understanding of children’s learning is influenced by an official curriculum that is more likely to be weighted towards particular policy priorities, and desired learning outcomes. This means the knowledge, skills and understanding that children develop outside school are less likely to be included in classroom assessment measures or judgments about desirable progress and achievement. This article explores what happens to teachers’ thinking when they learn about their children’s informal learning outside school and begin to relate to learners in a different way. The findings reported here from a New Zealand three-year longitudinal study identified possibilities for teachers to assess expanded conceptions of children’s learning within the classroom, even though the pressures of assessment against National Standards were ever present. We argue that teachers engaging with knowledge of their students’ informal learning act as a catalyst to rethink and re-conceptualise learning more broadly. Incorporating a strong student voice component in assessment, together with a focus on ipsative assessment, enables teachers to mitigate some of the unintended educational consequences of assessment accountability policies and practices.


Informal learning Self-assessment Student voice Teacher assessment Student agency 



Funding was provided by Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (Grant No. 24699).


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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Education, Massey UniversityWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationVictoria UniversityWellingtonNew Zealand

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