"Weighing the pig doesn't fatten it"
by Dimitrios Thanasoulas
forms of assessment
can gain valuable insights into their pupils' abilities by
using a number of other techniques which include observational
techniques, interviews and parental discussion, as well as
a type of dynamic assessment looking at the direct process
of learning (Long, 2000: 64).
techniques are appropriate for gathering information about
classroom processes. Flanders (1970) developed one of the
most commonly used systems of classroom observation. As shown
below, this system identifies 10 types of interaction during
a lesson, with observational judgements made every 3 seconds.
Praises or encourages
Accepts or uses ideas of pupils
Criticising or justifying authority
Silence or confusion
1970, found in Long, 2000: 65)
This system can show differences between teacher styles, for
example whether a teacher is capable of generating student
involvement, or whether he or she has a tendency to dominate
classroom processes. However, Flanders' system was specifically
designed to show different types of verbal interactions, and
would need to be modified to look into other aspects of observable
usually interview students or discuss their progress with
their parents. The interviews can be used with the aim of
gathering information as a basis for selection or advice on
future studies, or for identification of a student's problem
behaviour. People entering interview situations have made
critical decisions beforehand and do not change them very
readily. For example, students discussing their own problem
behaviour are apt to present themselves as "the victim,"
while parents who have been called into school tend to ascribe
their children's problem behaviour to factors that are not
their responsibility. According to Walker (1998, found in
Long, 2000: 66), the typical encounter involved in parents'
evenings is regarded as being a problematic interface between
the power bases of home and school. Parents are frustrated
by not receiving the information they need, while teachers
tend to manage the exchange and limit the need for further
assessment is concerned with the changes in child's abilities
in response to a learning situation. Conventional forms of
assessment are only considered to be 'snapshots' (Long, 2000:
67) of students' abilities, as they assume that development
is a progressive and linear process. A different view of the
learning process sees it as a form of active constructivism.
For Vygotsky (1978), observing children learning with support
is bound to provide a much more accurate idea of their abilities
and likely future progress. We will examine this form of assessment
in depth in another paper.
plays a major part in the teaching-learning process. The assessment
of ability involves assessment of knowledge, skills and understanding,
although, in reality, most tests focus on factual recall.
As for aptitude assessments, these try to predict future attainments.
Summative assessments show the level of students' achievements,
whereas formative assessments are used to guide future educational
experiences, giving feedback to students and including questions
put by teachers.
Formal assessments take two forms: criterion-referenced tests
based on the curriculum, and norm-referenced tests, which
enable teachers to assess learners' "absolute" level
Other forms of assessment are observational techniques, which
form the basis for altering management approaches; interviews
with students and parents, which can play an important role
in managing problem sisuations; and a dynamic view of learning,
which posits that there is a direct link between teaching
techniques and pupils' performance and motivation.
P. and Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning.
Assessment in Education, 5, 7-75.
Butler, R. (1988). Enhancing and undermining intrinsic motivation:
the effects of task-involving and ego-involving evaluation
on interest and performance. British Journal of Educational
Psychology, 58, 1-14.
Flanders, N. (1970). Analyzing Teacher Behavior. Reading,
MA: Addison Wesley.
Fleming, M. and Chambers, B. (1983). Teacher-made tests: windows
on the classroom. In W. Hathaway (Ed.) New Directions for
Testing and Measurement, vol. 19, Testing in the Schools.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gipps, C., Steadman, S., Blackstone, T. and Stierer, B. (1983).
Testing Children: Standardised Testing in Schools and LEAs.
London: Heinemann Educational Books.
Long, M. (2000). The Psychology of Education. London: RoutledgeFarmer.
MacIntosh, H. and Hale, D. (1976). Assessment and the Secondary
School Teacher. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Salmon-Cox, L. (1981). Teachers and standardised achievement
tests: what's Really happening? Phi Delta Kappa, May.
Thackray, D. (1974). Reading Readiness Profiles. Sevenoaks:
Hodder & Stoughton.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
Walker, B. (1998). Meetings without communication: a study
of parents' evenings in secondary schools. British Educational
Research Journal, 24, 163-179.
English Literature and Linguistics at Athens University
and then did an MA in Applied Linguistics at Sussex
University. After that, he earned an MBA from Mooreland
University and is currently finishing the second year
of my PhD studies in Education at Nottingham University.
His academic interests include fostering cultural awareness
and learner autonomy, as well as such issues as language
and ideology, Critical Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics,
Sociolinguistics, and the Psychology of Education.
can be contacted at:
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