What is the theory behind AFL?
Assessment for Learning (AFL) is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses on the development of students’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and learning process.
It is based on the premise that learning should be assessed regularly throughout the course of study.
AFL is used in schools, colleges, and universities around the world.
The principles of assessment is to provide feedback to teachers and students about their performance and progress towards achieving learning outcomes.
AFL is also used in professional settings such as training courses, conferences, and seminars.
What is Assessment for Learning vs. Assessment of Learning?
The terms “assessment” and “learning” are often confused or even mixed up with each other. There are different assessment arrangements.
This can lead to confusion when it comes to assessment objectives and how we assess our own learning and what we do with this information.
In order to clarify these issues, let’s look at some examples of assessments:
Example 1 – Assessing my learning
I am taking a language class where I have been asked to write two essays. One essay will focus on grammar while the second one will focus on vocabulary.
In both cases, there will be questions asking me to explain certain grammatical structures or words. These assignments would count toward my final grade.
However, they wouldn’t really help me learn anything new because alnl the work has already been done by the teacher. They just ask me to show them what I’ve learned so far.
Example 2 – Assessing someone else’s learning
A colleague asks you to review his paper before he submits it to his professor. You find several mistakes but don’t want to tell him because you think he’ll get upset if you point out his errors.
Instead, you give him suggestions on how to improve his writing style. He thanks you for your time and says that he appreciates your comments.
Now, which example sounds more like assessing yourself or another person’s learning? Which one feels better?
Example 1 is not very helpful since it doesn’t actually teach us anything new.
Example 2 does seem much more useful because it helps us understand something new. We’re able to see things from a different perspective than we were previously aware of.
So, why use the term “assessments” instead of “learning assessments”?
When people talk about “assessments”, they usually mean tests or quizzes. When we say “learnings”, however, we refer to activities that involve thinking, problem-solving, critical analysis, etc.
For instance, reading a book might be considered a learning activity whereas answering multiple-choice questions after reading the same text could be counted as an assessment.
Types of assessment for learning
As mentioned earlier, there are various types of assessments used in education today.
Here are some common ones:
• Formative assessment strategies
This type of assessment for learning gives feedback immediately following a task/activity.
It allows teachers to provide students with specific feedback regarding their performance during the lesson.
The assessment objectives is to make sure that students know exactly what they did right and wrong.
Effective Teachers may also use formative assessment activity to determine the effectiveness of assessment or whether students need additional practice or instruction.
Formative feedback can take place at any stage of the process depending upon the needs of the learner.
This includes providing immediate feedback during lessons, giving written feedback within 24 hours of completing a test, or even sending emails to parents when children perform poorly on standardized exams.
• Summative Assessment strategy / High-stakes summative assessments
Summative evaluations occur once learners complete a course of study.
These assessments allow instructors to gauge where each student stands relative to others who have completed similar courses.
They help instructors decide whether changes should be made to curricula so that all students will reach the same level of proficiency by the end of the semester.
Summative evaluations often consist of final examinations, midterms, finals, projects, portfolios, reports, presentations, essays, assignments, papers, homework, and other forms of testing.
• Diagnostic evaluation
Diagnostic evaluations are designed to assess how well a particular skill has been learned.
In contrast to summative evaluations, diagnostic evaluations do not require students to demonstrate mastery before receiving credit.
Instead, these assessment type focuses on measuring knowledge acquisition rather than content retention.
For example, if you were taking a class on writing, your teacher would likely give you a diagnostic exam to see how much you had retained from previous classes.
If you passed this examination, then you would receive full credit for the course without having to retake it again. However, if you failed the exam, you would probably have to repeat the entire course until you mastered the material.
- Peer assessment
In peer assessment, peers evaluate one another’s work instead of relying solely on instructor ratings.
Peer review provides valuable information because it helps students learn more effectively by allowing them to compare themselves against their classmates’ work.
Students benefit from peer reviews because they get honest opinions from fellow classmates about their own strengths and weaknesses.
Additionally, peer reviews encourage students to reflect critically on their own work and improve their skills through constructive criticism.
What are the benefits of AFL?
Effective assessment provides an opportunity for educators to observe students’ behaviors as they work through tasks and provide evidence of student learning. Assessment for learning should provide teachers with insight into which strategies students employ to solve problems.
Additionally, skilled teachers can gather information about students’ abilities and interests. They can monitor student progress and those low-achieving students.
Finally, teachers can learn more about their own instructional practices, teaching process, and the impact of teaching on their students. All of these factors contribute to improving classroom management, quality of teaching practice, and overall school climate.
In addition, AFL allows visible learning for teachers to provide individualized instruction based on what works best with each child.
Assessment for learning involves different approaches in order to meet diverse learning styles.
Furthermore, AFL enables teachers to identify areas of strength and weakness among their students. As such, teachers can tailor lesson plans accordingly and provide pathways for students.
How does AFL differ from traditional grading systems?
Traditional grading systems rely heavily on subjective judgments. Therefore, there is no guarantee that every student receives exactly the grade he/she deserves.
How does AFL differ from traditional methods of assessing learning?
Traditional methods of evaluating learning include quizzes, tests, and grades and student achievement.
While these tools are useful in some situations, they don’t always accurately reflect the skills being taught.
Quizzes and tests only measure factual recall while grades represent a snapshot of one’s ability to apply concepts. As such, neither method fully captures the complexity of real-world problem-solving.
Furthermore, both types of assessments lack validity because they rely solely on memory. Students may memorize facts but fail to understand them.
The result: poor performance on future tests and lower grade point averages.
In contrast, AFL allows educators to collect data throughout the year. Teachers use observations to determine what works best with individual students understanding level and make adjustments for students level of understanding.
Then, they adjust instruction accordingly. Because AFL focuses on observable behavior instead of rote memorization, it helps ensure that students develop a deeper understanding of complex topics.
It also encourages students to think critically and creatively. This type of thinking leads to higher levels of academic achievement.
What do I need to know before using AFL?
Before implementing AFL, you should consider your goals for the learning programmes.
Do you want to assess how well students perform certain activities or simply evaluate whether students have mastered specific content? or create a comprehensive assessment strategy? If you choose to implement AFL, make sure you follow all guidelines outlined below.
- First, decide if you will be collecting data during class time or after classes end. Prepare a list of questions if you must.
You must allow enough time between when students complete an activity and when you observe them performing it. Otherwise, you won’t get accurate results.
- Second, select appropriate tasks. For example, if you plan to test students’ knowledge of fractions, then you’ll need to create fraction problems.
However, if you’re interested in measuring students’ critical thinking skills, then you might ask questions like “What would happen if we added two negative numbers?”
- Third, set up observation schedules. The more frequently you conduct observations, the better your chances of getting reliable results.
To avoid bias, limit yourself to observing each task once per week.
Finally, keep records. Make note of which tasks worked well and which ones didn’t work as expected. Remember your learning goals. Then, review this information at regular intervals so you can improve your academic goal, teaching strategies, teaching process and create a data-driven assessment process.
How do I record my observations?
You can use any number of software programs to track your progress monitoring assessment system. Some assessment tools include Google Forms, Microsoft Excel, and Apple Numbers.
You could even write down notes directly onto student papers! Just remember to document everything from start to finish. That way, you’ll have a clear picture of exactly what happened during every lesson.
Additionally, you can share these files online through sites like Dropbox.com. Doing so makes it easy for other teachers to access your lessons.
If you’d rather not use technology for seamless assessment, you can still take advantage of paper forms. Simply print out copies of the form you wish to fill out.
Then, handwrite responses into the blank spaces provided. Finally, staple the completed sheets together. Remember that data-driven assessments fuel student success.
AFL provides valuable feedback for students’ strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to understand where your students are at the stages of student learning because this information can help guide future decisions regarding curriculum design, essential teaching strategies, and student attainment.
A Wife, a mum and a Tutor! I am the Lead Editor at TheTutor.Link & also the Head Tutor there. I love teaching seeing young minds flourish. I also love blogging and sharing my experience on the world wide web.