Assessment for learning - Why the theory needs the practice

Willis, Jill (2007) Assessment for learning - Why the theory needs the practice. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning, 3(2), pp. 52-59.

View at publisher


Assessment for Learning is a pedagogical practice with anticipated gains of increased student motivation, mastery and autonomy as learners develop their capacity to monitor and plan their own learning progress.

Assessment for Learning (AfL) differs from Assessment of learning in its timing, occurring within the regular flow of learning rather than end point, in its purpose of improving student learning rather than summative grading and in the ownership of the learning where the student voice is heard in judging quality. Since Black and Wiliam (1998) highlighted the achievement gains that AfL practices seem to bring to all learners in classrooms, it has become part of current educational policy discourse in Australia, yet teacher adoption of the practices is not a straightforward implementation of techniques within an existing classroom repertoire.

As can be seen from the following meta-analysis, recent research highlights a more complex interrelationship between teacher and student beliefs about learning and assessment, and the social and cultural interactions in and contexts of the classroom. More research is needed from a sociocultural perspective that allows meaning to emerge from practice. Before another policy push, we need to understand better the many factors within the assessment relationship. We need to hear from teachers and students through long-term AfL case studies both to inform AfL theory and to shed light on the complexities of pedagogical change for enhancing learner autonomy.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

610 since deposited on 24 Aug 2011
125 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 45078
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: student motivation, classroom learning, Assessment for Learning, AfL, learner identity, classroom pedadogy
ISSN: 1833-4105
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Education Assessment and Evaluation (130303)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 University of Southern Queensland, Faculty of Education
Deposited On: 24 Aug 2011 22:16
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 14:17

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page