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Assessment for Learning (AfL)

Assessment for Learning is defined as the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for
use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where
they need to go and how best to get there.

AfL should be part of effective learning, focus on how students learn, be central to classroom
learning, be a key profession skill, be sensitive and constructive, foster motivation, promote
understanding of goals and criteria, help learners know how to improve, develops the capacity
for self – assessment and finally recognises all educational achievement.

AfL is successful when embedded in teaching and learning. Some examples of how to do this

KWL – Before the teaching of a new topic, students make three columns – K (What they
already know about the topic), W (What they want to learn about the topic), L (What they have
learnt). The students brainstorm the first two columns, and then return to the third column
either throughout the lesson or at the end.

Setting Targets – about what you and the class are going to do. They can referred to
throughout the lesson and during the plenary session.

Improvement Guidance – when marking students’ work make comments that are guidance for
improvement. Encourage students to do the same when they are doing peer assessment.
(marking each other’s work)

Peer Marking – students mark each other’s work according to an assessment criteria
(marking scheme). This allows students to see model answers and enables them to reflect
about their own learning.

Learning Journal – Have students create a learning journal. This will allow students to reflect
on and review their learning. It could include plenary activities. A learning journal also
conveys progress, linking learning between units.

Self – Evaluation – this is how we learn, so ask students to think about what has happened
when the learning has taken place, what made them think, what they found difficult, what they
need more help with, what they are pleased about and what have they learnt more about the
topic. This can be done through graphic organisers.
Graphic Organisers – get students to draw three columns – plus, minus and interesting. Then
students assess the elements of their work that has worked, and not worked for their learning.
This encourages students to self – assess.

Exemplar Work – give students model answers and ask them to mark it using a marking
scheme. This will help reproduce what is being asked for and how it relates to the process of

Communication – get students communicate thinking by working in pairs to create posters

about showing all they know about a topic, then pin the posters up on a wall, and compare
each one. If something is only on one poster get those students to explain it to the class. If
something appears on all posters, then it needs less working on.

Generate and Answer – near exam time get students to make up their own question, swap
with their partner and then mark according to a marking scheme they have produced
themselves. (based on an exam marking scheme).

Open versus Closed – closed questions do not really encourage abstract thinking, whereas
open questions do and therefore helps to improve learning. e.g. give me an example of a
cubic with only one real root.