In higher education (HE) considerable attention is focused on the skills sets students need to meet the requirements of the fourth industrial revolution. The acquisition of high-level assessment feedback skills is fundamental to lifelong learning. HE has made significant investment in developing assessment feedback practices over the last 30 years; however, far less attention has been given to the development of inclusive agentic integrated assessment systems that promote student agency and autonomy in assessment feedback, and from an individual differences perspective. “Inside the Black Box,” a seminal work, opened the potential of assessment as a supportive process in facilitating students in coming to know (understanding the requirements of a task and context, and their own learning) through the development of formative assessment. However, overall, the assessment for learning movement has not changed students’ perceptions, on entering HE, that feedback is something they receive rather than something they can generate and orchestrate despite being predicated on a self-regulatory approach. HE promotes students’ use of self-regulated learning approaches although these are not sufficiently integrated into curriculum systems. In moving forward assessment feedback, it is important to adopt a theoretically integrated approach that draws on self-regulatory frameworks, agentic engagement concepts, understanding of individual differences, and the situated nature of assessment. Current emphases in HE focus on how we engage students as active participants in assessment, in coming to know assessment requirements as part of sustainable practices with students as co-constructors of assessment inputs and outputs. Assessment design should be challenging students to maximize their selective and appropriate use of assessment feedback skills for both immediate and longer-term learning gains. Addressing the professional development of lecturers and students in the acquisition and development of essential fourth industrial age assessment feedback competencies is fundamental to enhancing the quality of learning and teaching in HE.
Carol Evans and Michael Waring
Wilma C. M. Resing, Julian G. Elliott, and Bart Vogelaar
Dynamic assessment and dynamic testing are aspects of an umbrella concept, denoting a variety of different assessment and testing forms that incorporate feedback, hints, or training in the assessment process, and aim to measure a child’s progress when solving cognitive tasks and in doing so provide an indication for his or her cognitive potential for learning. Psychological and psychoeducational assessment is often applied in educational settings. Most of the instruments used in such assessments have a static nature; instruction is mainly restricted to telling a child what he or she has to do, and the main focus is on the outcomes of testing. The principal characteristic of dynamic assessment and testing, on the contrary, is that children are explicitly provided with feedback, prompts, or training intended to enable them to show progress when solving cognitive tasks. Where in static assessment the test outcomes are considered to measure that which a child already knows and has acquired so far, dynamic assessment procedures focus both upon potential learning progression and, in some cases, the underlying cognitive processes. Dynamic measures are developed to assess developing or yet-to-develop abilities in a setting in which the assessor helps the child to solve the tasks and teaches the child how to solve these tasks more independently. Consequently, dynamic assessment measures are primarily focused on a child’s potential for learning, rather than on past learning experiences, and likely provide a better indication of a child’s level of cognitive functioning than conventional, static test scores do separately or in combination with other instruments. Dynamic assessment formats can be very different from each other, ranging from individually based forms of mediation, often called dynamic assessment, to active scaffolding and highly standardized procedures, offered to groups or individuals, often called dynamic testing. Dynamic assessment and testing can be applied in very different settings and be influenced by many factors. In an educational setting, outcomes of dynamic testing and assessment could, in principle, provide educational psychologists or teachers with information regarding learning outcomes during these forms of intervention.
Self-regulation is a complex, multifaceted concept that can be described as a higher mental process oriented toward children’s (and adults’) metacognitive, motivational, and behaviorally active participation in their own learning. It includes cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional development. It is related to several other higher mental processes, notably executive function, and the two are sometimes confused and even conflated. They are, however, not interchangeable, and it is vital to clarify both what self-regulation is and what it is not. Failure to do so may lead to confusion at practice and policy levels, and ineffective or inappropriate practice, potentially disadvantageous to young children. Self-regulation may be significant in all aspects of development, particularly in early childhood, and efforts to enhance children’s self-regulation may be among the most effective educational interventions. Interest is reflected in developments in the field of assessment, including by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and in government policy in, inter alia, England. Play, particularly pretense, problem-solving, and talk (both private speech and dialogue) are advocated as rich, naturalistic contexts for the development, support, and meaningful assessment of young children’s self-regulation. Some specific approaches to assessment are identified, notably observation and stimulated recall, in the form of reflective dialogues, including the use of video. Decontextualized assessment is suggested as a potentially less effective approach in capturing the full depth and range of young children’s self-regulatory competence.
Danielle S. McNamara and Laura K. Allen
Writing is a crucial means of communicating with others and thus vital to success and survival in modern society. Writing processes rely on virtually all aspects of cognition (e.g., working memory, motivation, affect, self-regulation, prior knowledge, problem solving) and are naturally embedded in social contexts. Social factors include writers’ objectives, audience, genre, and mode of writing. For example, the increased use of the Internet has rendered writing for informal purposes more frequent, and writing mechanics (e.g., deleting, spell checking) and search for information more efficient. Research on educational interventions to improve writing points to the importance of providing students with instruction and practice using writing strategies, writing practice with feedback (e.g., instructor, automated), and collaborative writing (including peer feedback). Given the inherent complexity of writing, it is important to help students learn how to write across various situations with varying purposes and demands. This necessitates reading many types of text genres (e.g., narrative vs. informational writing), writing frequently, and revising based on feedback. Since the turn of the century, there has been a substantial increase in research on writing processes, including methods to improve writing. However, there remains a substantial need for additional experimental work to understand writing processes as well as more evidence on which types of interventions are most beneficial in helping students to improve their writing. Feedback from both cognitive and sociocultural researchers should inform future revisions of the standardized guidelines and assessments with the long-term goal of developing a clearly defined set of standards for academic excellence in writing.
Stephen M. Ritchie
STEM education in schools has become the subject of energetic promotion by universities and policymakers. The mythical narrative of STEM in crisis has driven policy to promote STEM education throughout the world in order to meet the challenges of future workforce demands alongside an obsession with high-stakes testing for national and international comparisons as a proxy for education quality. Unidisciplinary emphases in the curriculum have failed to deliver on the goal to attract more students to pursue STEM courses and careers or to develop sophisticated STEM literacies. A radical shift in the curriculum toward integrated STEM education through multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary/ transdisciplinary projects is required to meet future challenges. Project-based activities that engage students in solving real-world problems requiring multiple perspectives and skills that are authentically assessed by autonomous professional teachers are needed. Governments and non-government sponsors should support curriculum development with teachers, and their continuing professional development in this process. Integrating STEM with creative expression from the arts shows promise at engaging students and developing their STEM literacies. Research into the efficacy of such projects is necessary to inform authorities and teachers of possibilities for future developments. Foci for further research also are identified.