AFL pedagogical approach

No. This is not a post about the best pedagogical approaches to coaching American Football League teams. This is about assessment (hence the tag). The research comes from De Luca, Luce, San & Klinger. Unfortunately I did not note the the title in my short notes when I made them several months ago.

Where to next? 

I assess for learning, but tend to be more literal in my approach (refer to details below). I involve the students in their assessment in bursts. I need to be more consistent in my approach and have more exemplars available.

Research Summary

Assessment ranges from assessment OF learning (AOL) to assessment FOR learning (AFL). There is a misconception that these two forms of assessment are disconnected. The perceived difference creates a barrier that limits its uptake.

What is it? 

AOL is a summative form of assessment, largely data driven and useful for things like ‘National Accountability’, analysis of trends & statistical analysis of large groups. Think about that maths unit on time. You assess, enter the results and note any tweaks that can be addressed when you teach next year’s group/ be passed on to following teachers for the next year – and then leave it in a folder.

AFL is assessing before/as the learning is happening to aid the learning AS it happens. It is an assessment format that allows students to actively engage in the assessment to become more independent learners. The teacher still plays an active role in this though. Think again about that time unit: you may do a pre-assessment. You certainly ask questions and note where children are at as you teach using deliberately placed statements and activities. These assess your teaching as you are doing it.

However, interpreted literally, AFL can still be a very teacher directed form of assessment, done ‘to’ the students. The teacher still uses the information to change the way they are teaching, meet needs etc, but the children do not necessarily know why they are learning this. Interpreted through the ‘spirit of the law’ AFL allows for increased learner autonomy, providing an opportunity to improve.

Barriers: There are practical barriers though, such as class size – AoL is certainly more efficient.

Gardner, 2006 p.198 says “Overall standards & individual performance may be improved by actually emphasising [AFL] assessment.”

Possibilities of AFL

  • Promotes contextual, skill based learning
  • Reframing and specifying educational issues & goals
  • Assess teachers for learning, not just students
  • Identifying teacher cohorts for professional development based on need
  • Categorise teacher learning needs.

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