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Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning enables students to exercise agency and autonomy and to build capability in their learning.

Assessment for learning positions the student at the centre of teaching and learning and promotes independent learning. It aligns well to the pedagogy of self-empowerment or Tino rangatiratanga.

Teachers also use assessment for learning to enhance students’ motivation and commitment to learning. When teachers commit to learning as the focus for assessment, they change the classroom culture to one of success.

Earl and Timperley, 2009

Earl, Lorna M. and Timperley, Helen (Eds) 2009. Professional Learning Conversations: Challenges in Using Evidence for Improvement. New York: Springer.

See also: Manitoba Education Citizenship and Youth, 2006. Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind: Assessment for Learning, Assessment as Learning, Assessment of Learning(PDF 1.64MB). Winnipeg: Manitoba Education.

Assessment for learning is an investigative tool to identify, for both teacher and student, what they need to do to address the gap between what the students currently know and where they need to go to in terms of new learning and knowledge. It happens as an ongoing and interactive process during learning rather than at the end of learning as a summative tool.

Students understand the expectations around their learning and are given regular feedback and advice on how to improve their work.

Assessment for learning relates to the teaching as inquiry process.

Teacher inquiry identifies which strategies and resources are most likely to support students on an individualised basis. It informs differentiated teaching strategies and helps to identify the learning opportunities most likely to help students move forward.

Through assessment for learning, students discover more about themselves as learners and become aware of how they learn – they become megacognitive, asking questions such as:

  • Am I understanding these concepts?
  • What are the criteria for improving my work?
  • What strategies do I know that will help me learn this?

Students need to reflect on their own work on a regular basis, question and validate their own thinking, and decide on the next steps for their learning.

This process requires mutually supportive and interactive learning culture and environment, where it is safe for students to take chances associated with making their thinking visible or tangible and where support is readily available.

Creating supportive environments for assessment relates to other teaching and cultural competencies, such as manaakitanga and whakawhanaungatanga.


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Last updated December 8, 2021