Using evidence to guide student learning requires a clear idea of the intended learning and a vision of what it looks like when learning is achieved. It is often said that formative assessment provides students with the skills and mindsets to learn how to learn. But what does that really look like for students and teachers? This brief discusses how the process of eliciting, interpreting, and responding to evidence of student learning creates the conditions for teachers and students to shift their conception of learning itself to be one that arises out of and promotes collective knowledge.
In this brief, WestEd experts Nancy Gerzon and Barbara Jones provide an overview of three critical components of the student role in advanced formative assessment:
- Self-assessment – students developing habits of mind to monitor their learning independently
- Peer feedback – students learning to seek input from their peers and support each other in learning
- Discourse – students extending their thinking, making their learning visible, and participating in a shared learning experience
Each of these is a key entry point for students to engage in using evidence to advance their own and their peers’ learning. By implementing these three processes, students can gain the confidence needed to be able to make decisions about the status of their own learning, to extend that learning, and to envision next steps.
In this brief, WestEd expert Nancy Gerzon discusses the differences between Learning Goals and Success Criteria and how each are utilized for student learning. Learning Goals and Success Criteria address a core objective of formative assessment, which is to involve students in the management of their own learning. Both Learning Goals and Success Criteria give students the information needed to become active participants in the learning process. This brief also offers suggestions for how to use Success Criteria to communicate with students, as well as suggestions for developing Success Criteria with student participation.
The process of formative assessment depends on a classroom culture where students feel safe to say what they know and what they do not understand, to give and receive constructive feedback from peers, and to take risks in their learning. Implementing such a learning culture can support students to feel safe in their learning environment and learning with and from their peers. This brief is designed to support the development of classroom cultures that support the use of formative assessment. To do so, this brief describes six interdependent features of such a classroom culture:
- Shared responsibility for learning
- Positive interactions with the teacher and among peers
- Supportive and collaborative relationships
- Mutual trust
- Intellectual rigor
- Learning expectations for all students