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Brains on the table : diagnostic and formative assessment through observation

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Leat


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The majority of assessment in secondary schools in England and Wales is summative both in nature and purpose but as a tool for learning, assessment must be a dynamic dialogue between teacher and pupil which influences future teaching and learning activities. Diagnostic assessment of pupils is constrained by the nature of the tasks in which they are asked to engage. This paper describes the use of 'mysteries' as an enjoyable assessment tool which provides evidence of pupils' cognitive processes through the observation and analysis of pupils' manipulation of data slips to solve the mystery. Stages in this process are identified and their resemblance to the structure of the observed learning outcome (SOLO) taxonomy is established. A diagnostic interpretation of the difficulties pupils may be observed to encounter is suggested and appropriate formative action is outlined. Finally, the collaborative nature of learning and the validity of mysteries as assessment tools are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leat D, Nichols A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice

Year: 2000

Volume: 7

Issue: 1

Pages: 103-121

ISSN (print): 0969-594X

ISSN (electronic): 1465-329X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/713613327


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