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Literature review of assessment for learning in science

This literature review, by NFER, sought to address the following research questions:

  • What does AfL in science involve?
  • What AfL techniques are most commonly used in science?
  • Does science make use of different AfL techniques to other subjects?
  • How commonly is AfL used in science?

Key findings were:

· Assessment for learning has many generic features but there are some features of AfL which can be specifically honed for science teaching and learning.

· Classroom climate is particularly important. It is crucial that a co-constructivist, non-threatening environment is established in order for pupils to feel able to express their ideas and allow the teacher to establish what the pupils know, what they don’t know and what they partly know – their
 misconceptions – and to develop teaching that will move their understanding

· The importance of talk, questioning, feedback, self- and peer-assessment are key in this area of research. The use of summative tests for formative purposes
 and the provision of resources and particular tools to support this area of
 teaching and learning are also discussed.

· There are some resource materials which have been written which support particular features of AfL in science, namely to identify pupil misconceptions
 and to encourage peer discussion.

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