A sociocultural reflection on formative assessment and collaborative challenges in the states of Jersey

Crossouard, Barbara (2009) A sociocultural reflection on formative assessment and collaborative challenges in the states of Jersey. Research Papers in Education, 24 (1). pp. 77-93. ISSN 0267-1522

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Drawing upon data arising from an evaluation carried out for the Jersey educational authority, this article discusses the interaction of two professional development initiatives, formative assessment and critical skills thinking, bringing the two initiatives together from the perspective of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). This allows the illumination of the power relations that are embedded within assessment practice and in consequence the importance of an instructional design that addresses these elements. After giving an overview of sociocultural learning theories and contextualising the research and the two initiatives in question, the article draws on the data to suggest the overlap between the mediating tool of a challenge and the CHAT concept of an activity system. It discusses the value of constructing a shared, collective focus (or object) for task activity; the authenticity and extended experiential nature of the task; the collaborative division of labour in the execution of the task and its assessment. Drawing upon the evaluation data, it is suggested that formative assessment might focus more strongly on extended task design, with the aim of creating spaces for student agency that is nevertheless in dialogue with curricular requirements. This also entails paying more explicit attention to the social positioning of teachers and learners, as well as amongst learners themselves, and ensuring that power relations are not glossed over in discussions of assessment regimes. In this respect the concept of an activity system seems potentially useful to teachers, not only researchers, in engaging with the complexities of designing classroom activities that support students critical engagement and participation in different communities of practice.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: formative assessment, sociocultural learning theory, Cultural Historical Activity Theory, instructional design, critical thinking skills, assessment for learning
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Barbara Crossouard
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:08
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2012 14:39
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/19390
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