Assessments system with both formative and summative assessments




Assessments are a vital component
within the education system with both formative and summative assessments
playing an integral role in the functioning of the Curriculum (Harlen and
Osborne 1985). Black and Wiliam (1998) termed summative assessment as
‘Assessment of Learning’ (AoL), as the main aim of the
assessment is to summarise the outcome of a learning goal, as such taking a ‘snapshot in time of their performance’ (Mawby and Dunne 2012, 139). These summaries can be in the
form of end of topic, term or year tests or grades which can be recorded and
reported to school leadership teams, school inspectors and parents, for
example. By renaming formative assessment as ‘Assessment for Learning’ (AfL),
Black and Wiliam (1998), highlighted it’s importance as positive impact on
children’s learning. AfL can present itself in many forms such as marking,
conversation, observation, peer and self-assessment and discussions, it
requires the active involvement of children with dialogue and questioning being
of upmost importance (Black and Harrison 2004), 
Afl can take place during teaching and is continuous throughout topics
and modules and enables the teacher to direct and plan accordingly, AfL is an ‘ongoing planned process that focuses on identifying the next
steps for improvement’ (Harrison and Howard 2009, 28).  Mountain evidence over recent years suggests
that AfL has a positive impact on children’s learning
(Hattie 2009; Gardner, Harlen, Hayward, Stobart and Montgomery 2010) elevating
the emphasis given to formative assessment.


This essay
looks at how verbal feedback given to pupils can be enriched by incorporating
aspects of the Theory of Communicative Action and The Sociocultural
Theory of autonomy and how these concepts relate to the pupil as the learner by
using The Zone of Proximal Development learning theory.


The Department of Education (2011) states that all teachers must
make accurate and productive use of assessment, this includes assessing to
secure and monitor pupil progress, to plan lessons and to set targets. It also
states that teachers should give pupils regular feedback both orally and via
marking, giving pupils the opportunity to respond. Marking plays a vital role in helping teachers identify
pupils’ misunderstandings and can contribute to delivering important feedback
to pupils, it is also plays a central role in a teachers’ work (Gibson, Oliver
and Dennison, 2015). However, in 2014 the Government conducted its teachers
Workload Challenge survey and identified the requirements of marking frequency
and extent as a main factor of larger teacher workloads, the survey contributed
to a reform of marking policies (Gibson et al. 2015). In 2015 the National
Foundation for Educational Research conducted a national survey which was
commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), the survey focused on
approaches to marking and the different strategies used between schools (such
as triple marking and impact marking) in a bid to maximise marking efficiency  (Higgins,
Katsipataki, Coleman, Henderson, Major, Coe and Mason, 2015). In 2016 the
Independent Teacher Workload Review Group stated that marking was an
unnecessary burden and should be “meaningful, manageable and motivating” and
applied by professional judgement. Elliott, Baird, Hopfenbeck, Ingram,
Thompson, Usher, Zatout, Richardson and Coleman (2016) conducted review of the
evidence on written marking, focusing on seven main areas of marking, grading, corrections, thoroughness, pupil responses, creating a dialogue, targets  and frequency and speed. The main
findings of the review found that grading,
corrections and thoroughness did not have significantly positive impact on
children’s learning. In some cases grading could have a negative impact, an
example of this is a study in Sweden which found that boys and lower ability
pupils who were graded made less progress throughout a year compared to similar
pupils who did not receive grades (Klapp, 2015). However, creating a dialogue,
targets and frequency and speed of marking did significantly improve children’s
learning (Elliott et al. 2016) an example of this is a study conducting in
Holland which found that engaging pupils in a dialogue provoked them into
becoming more reflective about their future work (Schaaf, Baartman, Prins,
Oosterbaan and Schaap, 2013). The review found that there was a distinct lack
of existing evidence which focused specifically on written marking, which is
surprising giving the emphasis on the importance of feedback to the pupil and
the interest in teacher workload. Studies that have been conducted tend to
focus in higher education settings or English as a foreign language setting and
studies are usually carried out over a short periods of time with no evidence
of long term impact (Elliott et al. 2016).


The Teaching and Learning Toolkit – an evidence synthesis
produced by the EEF, Sutton Trust and Durham University reviewed studies on
feedback and found that on average and additional eight months progress over
the course of the year could be made by providing high quality feedback
(Higgins et al. 2015).


Therefore, it is important to gain an understanding of
feedback beyond written marking.


Sadler (1989) suggested that feedback was a tool that could
be used by the teacher to close the learning gap for the pupil, reducing the
gap between what is known already and what needs to be known in the future.

This concept is known as The Zone of Proximal Development
(ZPD). ZPD is defined as the gap between the level of actual development which is
determined by solving problems independently and the level of development which
could potentially be reached through the guidance of/or in collaboration with
adults and/or more capable peers (Vygotsky, 1978). Developing the theory of ZPD
from the ground work of Jean Piaget’s theory that children are loan learners
(Piaget, 1936), Vygotsky (1896-1934) stated that education provided children
with experiences within their ZPD, that would encourage their learning and in
turn advance their personal and individual skills set and learning strategies .
Vygotsky (1978) argued against main stream academic tests to gauge pupil

challenging the
traditional concepts. Noting that concepts which came naturally to children
such as language develop, whereas concepts such as maths and English which
don’t develop naturally need to be taught. This could be perceived as a
limitation of ZPD, the concept of allowing a child to develop and flourish
through guidance is a challenging concept when it comes to subjects such as
maths, English and science, with some believing a more rigid learning system
would  be more appropriate (Dixon-Krauss,
1996). Another limitation is the possibility that the whole class of pupils
would negotiate the class topics/