Three important educational concepts underpin the discussion in Chapter 4. These are learning theory, teaching and assessment. How we believe students learn ought to influence how we teach and assess them.
Current conceptions of learning emphasise sociocultural processes where students not only learn collaboratively but also acquire and use information about how they learn that they can apply to their own development. As partners in their own education, students are crucially positioned to determine how successful education and schooling are. Teachers need to tap into students’ interests, prior learning and current achievement to provide useful information to students themselves in real time in class. Providing a summary of learning after some period of time is useful for some purposes, but is of limited value in shaping and promoting learning on a day-to-day basis. Educational policymakers are increasingly alert to the benefits of formative assessment and this is reflected in emerging policy at system level. This policy shift enables teachers to focus more on such approaches rather than predominately on summative purposes of assessment, though tensions between the two purposes remain.