Assessment For Learning (AFL)
Assessment for learning (AFL) is an approach to teaching and learning that creates feedback which is then used to improve pupils’ performance. Pupils become more involved in the learning process and from this gain confidence in what they are expected to learn.
One way of thinking about AFL is that it aims to ‘close the gap’ between a learner’s current situation and where they want to be in their learning and achievement. Christ Church’s teachers plan tasks which help learners to do this.
AFL involves pupils becoming more active in their learning and starting to ‘think like a teacher’. They think more actively about where they are now, where they are going and how to get there.
Our teachers integrate AFL in their lessons as a natural part of what they do, choosing how much or how little to use the method. AFL can be adapted to suit the age and ability of the learners involved.
Here are the main processes that take place in assessment for learning:
(i) Questioning enables a pupil, with the help of their teacher, to find out what level they are at.
(ii) The teacher provides feedback to each pupil about how to improve their learning.
(iii) Pupils understand what successful work looks like for each task they are doing.
(iv) Pupils become more independent in their learning, taking part in peer assessment (checking each other’s work) and self-assessment (checking their own work) .
Part of the AFL work at Christ Church has included introducing the children to aspects of learning called learning skills or powers, that can help them become better learners. Using the learning powers in school helps to develop confidence and gives clear labels to help children develop their understanding of learning processes. At Christ Church, our school ethos is one of striving to be the best we can be, recognising that we all have different strengths and interests, and by helping the children become better learners, as can also nurture this ethos and boost the children’s learning.
The four main learning skills or dispositions are:
These dispositions are inherent in all of us. They are not fixed at birth, or when we leave school. They can be developed in everyone regardless of current ability or age. There are no limits to extending our learning power.
We have introduced these dispositions to the children as groups of learning muscles. Just as we can build our physical muscles by the right kind of exercise, we can also exercise our learning muscles to develop strength and stamina. Developing the
dispositions that make for success as a life-long learner equates to achieving a good level of all-round learning fitness. Each of the 4R’s is made up of a number of learning behaviours, summarised below.
Being ready, willing and able to lock into learning. Knowing how to work through difficulties when the pressure mounts or going gets tough.
Absorption – the pleasure of being engrossed in learning.
Managing Distractions – recognising and reducing interruptions.
Noticing – concentrating hard and really sensing what's out there in learning.
Perseverance –not giving up when learning is hard, understanding the feelings of learning when things are a challenge.
Being ready, willing and ready to learn in different ways – using both internal and external resources effectively, calling on different ways of learning as appropriate:
Questioning – asking questions of yourself and others. Being curious, playing with situations and delving beneath the surface of things.
Making Links – making connections between consolidated and new learning – building patterns and weaving a web of understanding.
Imagining – using the mind’s eye as a learning tool – using your imagination – wondering ‘what if’
Reasoning – calling up your logical and rational skills to work things out methodically and rigorously. Constructing good arguments.
Capitalising – Making good use of and drawing on a full range of resources from school and the wider world.
Being ready and willing to become more strategic about learning – taking a longer term view by planning, taking stock and drawing out your experiences as a learner to get the best out of yourself. Your reflectiveness is made up of:
Planning – working out learning in advance. Planning learning.
Revising – monitoring and adapting along the way. Being flexible, changing your plans, monitoring and reviewing your learning
Distilling – drawing out the lessons from experience. Looking at what has been learned – pulling out essential features – carrying them forward to aid future learning. Being your own learning coach.
Meta learning – knowing yourself as a learner – how you learn best. How to talk about the learning process
Interdependence – knowing when it’s appropriate to learn on your own or with others, and being able to put your view across in class discussions and circle times.
Collaboration – the skills of learning with others. Respecting and recognising other points of view. Adding to and drawing from the strength of teams.
Empathy and Listening – contributing to others’ experiences by listening to them to understand what they are really saying, and putting yourself in their shoes
Imitation – constructively adopting methods of learning, picking up habits and values from other people whom you observe.