A professional learning framework in assessment
Assessment is known to be one of the most important areas of educational practice. Cambridge Assessment Network’s mission is to support the development and understanding of assessment, enabling practitioners to utilise it as part of their teaching and learning. Practitioners we work with include teachers, examiners, members of assessment organisations and those responsible for developing and delivering high quality assessments around the world.
We empower people in their working life by building their confidence, expertise and status as assessment professionals through effective and recognised professional learning.
Underpinning everything we do is our assessment professional learning framework. The framework is both a statement about what we think good professional learning in assessment looks like and how it can be achieved. It provides a way to think about how we can ensure positive impacts of professional learning and how they can be measured.
Professional learning cycle
Using the latest evidence from research into educational and professional learning perspectives, the framework lays out a mechanism for how you can develop your assessment expertise. These are the four stages of the professional learning cycle which are outlined below.
Development of assessment knowledge and skills
Principled knowledge and skills in assessment are key to your understanding and engagement with issues and debates you will encounter in your day-to-day practice.
Key principles include understanding assessment purposes, validity, reliability, fairness, standards and comparability, and practicality. These concepts can be engaged with through different themes such as theoretical knowledge, practical understanding, or thinking about assessment’s role in broader society.
Reflection on your own context
Research suggests that awareness and understanding of these issues provides a solid grounding for applying knowledge. In this sense, knowledge of the principles of assessment is powerful in supporting reflections on your own practice - which is stage two of the cycle. It is important for you to reflect on your assessment knowledge in relation to the key challenges and responsibilities that you face as a practitioner. Reflection is best achieved through engagement with expert support, the introduction of new ideas and concepts, and conversations with colleagues and peers.
Development of new insights
The third stage of the cycle relates to the development of new insights. The reflective process encourages you to develop new ideas about how assessment can support good learning outcomes. For example, you might have an idea for a new assessment approach, or a new solution to a previous problem. New insights occur when new knowledge or understanding is contrasted with previously held beliefs. This is important, because it is helps you develop new hypotheses or innovations in your assessment practice.
Innovations in practice
This leads us to the final stage of the cycle, innovations in practice. Innovation is the culmination of the previous three stages, and is a crucial aspect in developing confidence. Innovations can be small scale incremental changes, or grand new policies or designs.
Your reflections on the effectiveness of interventions or changes to your practice will become a source for developing further principled knowledge, thus completing the cycle.
Your professional identity
Our learning cycle reflects the fact that professional learning in assessment needs to encompass both technical knowledge and more reflective components that prompt practitioners to re-examine their conceptions and practice. Engaging with the learning cycle is a great way to develop a more critical and confident approach to your assessment practice.
What we know and think about assessment is influenced by our own experiences, and the assessment culture in which we live and work. This ongoing relationship with assessment is what we call an assessment ‘identity’.
Highly skilled experts
We believe that through engagement with our professional learning cycle we can empower you to contribute confidently to the decisions you make in your day to day assessment practice. We look to achieve this through building your expertise, confidence, status, and trust in yourself. These things taken together contribute to highly skilled experts who are able to effectively apply knowledge to improve decision making - across their own practice and in their workplace. They are also able to reflect on their motivations to learn more about assessment, reflect on their most appropriate next learning steps, and support others in building their assessment expertise.