Developing a reciprocal assessment practice through teacher and student collaboration

Year: 2012

Author: Gyllander, Lisbeth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Developing teachers' abilities to make valid assessment to improve students' learning is an important area in many countries today. An alignment between learning objectives, teaching and learning activities, and assessment is essential. Since learning requires student involvement, the Swedish School Board states that schools shall strive to ensure that students develop an increasing responsibility for their studies and enhance their ability to use self-assessment on performance in relation to both educational and individual goals.

One way to optimize validity may be to develop a reciprocal approach, where assessment is seen as a common concern. The ongoing research study focuses assessment, reciprocity and collaboration. Research aim to enhance knowledge on how students' perspectives can be used to develop a reciprocal assessment practice where teachers and students share a common interest and concern for assessment and learning.

The study is based on assumptions of ownership and collaboration. Ownership relates to previous research claiming that in order for students to participate in their knowledge creation they need to understand the learning objectives, the quality of their own performance and what they need to do to close the gap between current position and goals. Therefore learning objectivities need to be transparent and understandable. The key to effective learning is finding ways to help students structure their knowledge to build new and more powerful ideas. Collaboration is based on ideas that an effective way to move students learning forward is having students and teachers working together. Teachers need to understand students' perception on assessment in order to create a participatory learning environment. Students need to develop a high order thinking in order to take a metacognitive perspective on their learning process.

Action research is used in the study as an overarching approach. The first of four complementary studies, a focus group interview study, show that students view assessment as: performing, understanding and learning. The preliminary findings indicate that the relationship between learning objectives, assignments and assessment is not explicit to the students, which point to a weak constructive alignment. Ongoing studies use narratives and photographs from participatory observations as basis for dialogical meetings. Data from observations and meetings are analyzed by students, teachers and researcher, laying a foundation for continuous development of assessment practice.

By problematizing opportunities and challenges that arise when developing a reciprocal assessing practice the study aim to make a contribution to the ongoing dialogue on assessment.