Learning oriented assessment: how assessment can promote better learning

Hanan Khalifa

The language testing and educational assessment literature differentiates between formative and summative uses of assessment and tends to conceptualise them as separate entities. However, treating the relationship between these concepts as a dichotomy has engendered confusion about the purposes and uses to which assessment can be put to promote productive student learning. In this plenary, I discuss the term Learning-oriented Assessment, (LOA) which captures the centrality of learning within assessment. In developing the concept of LOA we are seeking ways of identifying an individual learner’s present state of understanding and directing immediate teaching/learning,  while at the same time tracking progress towards the achievement of long term learning objectives and preparation for public examinations or internationally recognised qualifications. If the ‘formative’ element of the assessment process is to mean more than informal feedback to learners, relevant measurement principles should also figure centrally in its conceptualisation and practice.  I will outline ways in which assessment data might be collected and used to profile and monitor learners’ progress, informing teacher decision-making and planning and enabling students to engage effectively in self-study. In this plenary, I invite you to reflect and bring your experience, knowledge and insights to this important area of development in language learning, teaching and assessment.