Dr Tony Richardson (PhD) is a freelance educational specialist with over 35 years of teaching and research experience. Over the past 10 years Tony has been an education consultant for various government and non-government bodies, within Southeast Asia, focusing on education; primary, secondary; tertiary and VET. He is currently the Project Director for the Integration of Financial Literacy into Cambodian government schools. Tony has co-authored a number of peer reviewed journal articles on topics relating to teachers, learners and pedagogy across several international landscapes, and also co-authored a book on preservice teacher education. He has previously presented, and continues to present, at international conferences on education topics throughout Southeast Asia.
There are currently three acknowledged formative assessment types; Assessment of Learning, Assessment for Learning and Assessment as Learning. This paper suggests there is possibly a fourth type; Assessment to Learning.
The goal of AtL is to capture and impact on the student’s learning journey. AtL achieves this goal by acknowledging the power of collective learning experiences; the learning experiences that reflect the successes and failures of the student, their peers and teacher/s, and then, by cultivating those learning experiences into Future Actionable Knowledge (FAK). FAK represents the application of future knowledge by emphasizing the communication channels, via Feedback-Feedforward Learning (FB-FFL) between the student, their peers and their teacher/s to diminish gaps-in-knowledge.
AtL achieves the tasks outlined above by providing the teacher with a lesson plan design focusing on planning, facilitating and directing student understanding by highlighting the student’s learning journey, with an emphasis on sequenced learning stages targeting incremental cognitive development. The AtL lesson plan’s design address five key areas; Knowledge, Sequence, Pedagogy, Checking and Outcomes.
By acknowledging a student’s learning, as a journey, helps to reinforce the application of the AtL lesson plan though an emphasis on the teacher focusing on ensuring the student understands and engages with their learning through demonstrating, and then applying, the knowledge associated with that journey, via Future Actionable Acknowledge. Consequently, the AtL lesson plan develops the AtL approach to formative assessment by emphasising social constructivism through carefully planned lessons, which focus on encouraging FAK.
It is through FAK, and the FB-FFL facilitated by FAK with the teacher, student and peers engaging in discussions associated with the student’s learning journey, the student moves forward to attain their journey’s end by providing their understanding of that journey. This understanding is reflected in the student demonstrating and then applying the knowledge linked to a particular journey. However, this knowledge is developed around a student’s incremental cognitive development reflected in the planned sequencing of this knowledge to address student understanding. The focus of the planned sequencing of knowledge stems from the view a student’s understanding is linked to a diminishment in their lack of knowledge about a specific point. Therefore, the greater the understanding by the student the greater the diminishment in their lack of knowledge.
The key to the planning of a student’s learning journey, and represents the genesis to AtL as another possible formative assessment type, is reflected in the sequencing of knowledge, by the teacher, to facilitate and direct a student’s learning. Like all journeys there is a beginning and an end and a student’s learning journey is no different. The teacher must plan the commencement of the student’s journey and then link that commencement to an expected outcome or end. For the teacher the seminal factor, with respect to the student’s journey, is to ensure the student understands their journey by engaging them in that journey. If the teacher does not focus on engaging the student, then the student is simply a passive recipient of knowledge and not an active player.
The teacher facilitates and directs the student to become an active player by engaging the student in their learning journey through helping the student know what they can and cannot do, and thereby, assisting the student in understanding what they are ready to learn next; this statement reflects the focus of formative assessment. With respect to AtL this undertaking is achieved through the AtL lesson plan.
For the teacher, when planning the student’s learning journey, the focus is on student understanding. This focus on student understanding is reflected in the teacher wanting to engage the student in their learning journey by designing lessons that highlight the following; What knowledge will I as a teacher need to use to assist my students in their understanding; How will I sequence this knowledge to help my students in their understanding; How will I teach (pedagogy) this sequenced knowledge to help students in their understanding, and engage students, How will I check to see if students can demonstrate their understanding of this sequenced knowledge, and, finally, What are the outcomes I expect the students to apply to highlight their understanding of what they have demonstrated.
AtL represents a type of formative assessment based on addressing the incremental development of the learning experiences of the student through the use of the AtL lesson plan. The incremental development of the learning experiences of the student are demonstrated through the achievement of sequenced cognitive learning outcomes as the student moves forward towards a learning outcome. This forward movement, by the student, is facilitated by Future Actionable Knowledge (FAK), where the student engages in the demonstration, and application of knowledge, to highlight to the teacher an understanding of that knowledge and therefore, a diminishment in their gaps-in-knowledge.