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Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies.

In many of Dylan Wiliam’s talks and publications he references five ‘key strategies’ that support the implementation of effective formative assessment.  The five strategies each get a chapter in his excellent book Embedding Formative Assessment (2011)   which builds on the work he developed with other colleagues in the 90s and 00s.

The five strategies were expressed as early as 2005:

  • Clarifying, understanding, and sharing learning intentions
  • Engineering effective classroom discussions, tasks and activities that elicit evidence of learning
  • Providing feedback that moves learners forward
  • Activating students as learning resources for one another
  • Activating students as owners of their own learning

Leahy, Lyon, Thompson and Wiliam (2005).

Very commonly, Wiliam presents these ideas in this helpful table, linking the strategies to core assessment concepts:

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In my work as a consultant and teacher trainer, I give a lot of ‘evidence-informed’ advice to teachers. Of late, this has been influenced largely by discussions about a knowledge-rich curriculum and my reading of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, cognitive load theory, and various other papers linking cognitive psychology to classroom practice.

However, it occurred to me recently that most of this overlaps entirely with Wiliam’s five strategies and that is what I want to explore here.  To some extent, schools and teachers often feel they have have ‘done AfL to death’ in countless CPD sessions over the last 15 years.  Time was when you couldn’t get a job unless you said ‘AfL’ about 12 times in an interview.  Sadly, my sense is that the wisdom at the heart of Wiliam’s ideas about responsive teaching/formative assessment gets washed out either a) by the delusion that the strategies are already embedded in day-to-day practice or b) by the sense that this is a box ticked and people are really ready to move to the new thing.  Truth be told, a lot of ‘AfL’ was and is a mile away from the formative assessment practice Wiliam is talking about.

Essentially, I feel that, among the important things every teacher should know, the five strategies should be there, part of the core curriculum for teacher development.  Here’s how I see it all connecting:

1.Clarifying, understanding, and sharing learning intentions

Wiliam says ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there’. This is largely about curriculum planning.   I read ‘learning intentions’ as meaning: what do we want all students to know and be able to do? In the detail, this means spelling out what knowledge  – in all its forms – they should have and how to apply this knowledge in new contexts.  It chimes perfectly with the wave of work being done around curriculum design. It also resonates with the strand of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction around sequencing concepts, providing models and appropriate scaffolding.

It also means ‘what does excellence look like?’. This connects to ideas about assessment and comparative judgement and teachers knowing the standards.  Significantly, the implication from Wiliam is that in ‘clarifying, understanding and sharing’ – teachers, students and their peers all need to know both the knowledge requirements and the criteria for excellence in any performed task.  This goes far, far beyond writing a mandatory one-line LO on the board at the start of every lesson! (Aarrghh!).  It suggests a lot of very explicit exposition and discussion about the target knowledge and the features of any endeavour that constitute ever increasing degrees of success.

This, in turn, feeds into ideas about self-regulation and metacognition.  Successful learners will be good at self-regulation, planning and monitoring their progress towards learning goals in a deliberate self-directed manner. Knowing the learning intentions very well is essential for that process to work.

So the links here are numerous:  curriculum, knowledge, standards, self-regulation, scaffolding, modelling.

2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, tasks and activities that elicit evidence of learning

In some ways, this ‘strategy’ is a one-line summary of most of the rest of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction .  ‘Discussions, tasks and activities’ covers a lot of possibilities.  At the centre of  it is the idea of ‘responsive teaching’.  Instructional teaching has to be highly interactive so that teachers are getting feedback from their students about how well their schemas for the material in hand are forming and how fluent they are becoming retrieving and using what they’ve learned.  The challenge for teachers is to involve as many students as possible which leads to the need for good questioning routines and good knowledge-check routines where the ratio of student involvement is high and the information received has a good diagnostic component.

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Rosenshine talks about the need for checking for understanding and asking lots of questions in a probing style.  Wiliam focuses on question design – including good diagnostic multiple choice questions – and the role of all-student response techniques.

Links:  Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction.  Shimamura’s ‘Generate-Evaluate’ model. Ideas about retrieval practice.  Nuthall’s ideas about ‘hidden lives’ and the idea that we can’t be remotely confident about learning taking place until we check – now, and again later.

3. Providing feedback that moves learners forward

Feedback is a thorny issue, woven into discussions about the use of formative and summative assessment, marking and workload, grading and the value of data as a tool to improve learner outcomes.  The key in Wiliam’s work is the emphasis on moving learners forward . It’s this thinking that informed the ideas I expressed in this ‘ feedback as actions ‘ post.

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Some of the key messages that Wiliam offers in relation to feedback that I cite very often are:

  • Feedback is only successful if students’ learning improves – and this depends on their capacity to understand  it and inclination to accept and act on it.  It’s got an interpersonal, motivational element that can’t be brushed aside.  Giving feedback isn’t a purely technical, objective task – although it does have to suggest actions students can actually take rather than offering a nebulous retrospective critique.
  • The goal is to change the students’ capacity to produce better work,  not just to improve their work.  Austin’s Butterfly is wonderful – because it shows what effective feedback can achieve – but Austin has only truly benefitted if, later, he is more able to ‘look like a scientist’ or draw beautiful butterflies without feedback: he needs to be able to generate his own feedback and become more independent.

This links formative assessment to metacognition and self-regulation and Rosenshine’s ideas about moving from guided to independent practice.  If we’re still reliant on external feedback to tell us if we’ve succeeded (SatNav style), then we’ve still got a long way to go.  Effective learners can link their work to the success criteria and generate their own ongoing self-correcting feedback narrative.

Links: Ethic of excellence, Rosenshine guided to independent practice, self-regulation.

4. Activating students as learning resources for one another

I think this is the feature of Wiliam’s five strategies that deserves more attention.  All too often teachers create major bottlenecks by forcing all classroom interactions to pass through them.  However, if teachers develop strong routines where students support each other’s learning in a serious structured manner,  then the ratio, quality and frequency of student interactions with the knowledge in hand can increase significantly.  We can’t have a dialogue with every student at once but they can all be involved in meaningful dialogues with each other to support the process of working out ‘where the learner is’ and ‘how to get to where the learner is going’.   This is where disciplined ‘ think pair share ‘ becomes so powerful.

Wiliam cites Slavin in showing that well-designed collaborative learning can yield significant gains – but it has to be done such that everyone is learning. There are so many ways to do this e.g  students checking their partners’ answers using all manner of quizzing formats and generative processes and elaborative-interrogative questions (why? how?).  Pairs are probably the most efficient and effective use of this strategy – because of the ease of switching in and out of the interactions.   If one person in a pair acts as the verifier for the other, using exemplars, fact sheets, mark schemes as a reference, the extent of retrieval practice and feedback can be increased hugely.   Another example might be using structured dialogues for practising the use of language or rehearsing explanations and arguments.  Provided that there is a strong process for evaluating students’ responses for accuracy and quality, a high volume of peer-to-peer  interactivity is powerful.

Links:  Hattie’s ‘reciprocal teaching’, Shimamura’s ‘think it, say it, teach it’, Slavin’s collaborative learning,  Sumeracki and Weinstein on elaborative interrogative questions and retrieval practice.

5. Activating students as owners of their own learning

In all honesty,  I find that implementation of the strategy behind this feel-good-phrase, often falls into the dust of ‘noble intent’ rather than delivering something tangible.  However, it is actually highly actionable and links directly to many other ideas. ‘Owning your own learning’ is at the heart of strong self-regulation and metacognition: setting learning goals, planning, monitoring and evaluating success in tasks links to those goals; forming effective schemata that take account of big-picture questions and themes that inform subsequent conscious rehearsal and elaboration.  However, these ‘goals’ are not broad brush life goals; they are learning goals – the next steps in improving writing fluency, science knowledge, confidence with maths and languages, physical fitness etc.

The point is that these characteristics of effective learning can be fostered by setting up good routines and expectations.  Teachers can help students to know where they are going and where they are on the curriculum journey.  This can be supported by:

  • giving students access to long-term topic plans, the syllabus, the wide scope overview before diving down into the details;
  • setting out milestones in the progress journey so that students can take their bearings and plan their own next steps through appropriate forms of practice, becoming increasingly independent.
  • setting out clear relational models for conceptual schema building  – as per Shimamura’s Relate in MARGE .
  • providing exemplars of performance at various levels of success up to a high/exceptional level so students can compare their own work against a scale and see for themselves where they are and what short-run learning goals might be achievable to move forward.

If a student knows for themself what they need to do in order to improve and gains the experience of being able to achieve success through applying effort to these self-determined goals, then they begin a positive upward spiral of confidence building, growth mindset-inducing, self-regulation that fuels even more success.

Links:  Rosenshine: practice; Shimamura: Relate; Growth mindset; self-regulation.

To some extent I feel that the issue has been that ‘AfL’ or even ‘formative assessment’ has been too broad a term; too much of a catch-all, thereby allowing various degrees of corruption and dilution to take root.  I think that it’s when you get into understanding and deploying the five separate strategies that it finds form.  That’s the understanding of formative assessment that teachers need.  It’s powerful stuff, right there, where it’s been for years.

Key References:

Wiliam, D., & Thompson, M. (2007). Integrating assessment with instruction: what will it take to make it work? In C. A. Dwyer (Ed.), The future of assessment: shaping teaching and learning (pp. 53-82). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Wilam, D (2011) Embedded Formative Assessment. Solution Tree Press.

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22 comments.

I love Dylan’s suggestion that ‘good feedback causes thinking’. I’ve found that to be a very helpful phrase as I’ve tried to encourage myself and others to avoid too much ‘ego feedback’. It’s so easy to boost people’s sense of emotional well being, and I do think praise has its place, but being able to discover (or being told) what I need to do next, and how to go about it, seems beneficial almost all of the time. I find that asking questions is one of the most effective ways that I can help others to be more effective, and it’s usually empowering in the extent to which it allows them to do most of the work.

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Reblogged this on Ridings Educational .

[…] we start using Dylan Wiliam’s excellent strategy: Activating students as resources for one another.  In order to maximise the extent of retrieval practice that goes on, it is fantastic to get […]

[…] January – Dylan Wiliam’s Five Principles of Formative Assessment – Tom Sherrington – reading… – formative […]

Thanks for this informative summary. In my work with teachers, I’d added a 6th strategy: Activating students as “assessors” of their own learning; to inculcate self-assessment so that they know “am I there yet?”.

[…] In order for this to work, we need to enact the Generate-Evaluate cycle that Shimamura describes so well. (Introducing MARGE: A superb ebook about learning by Arthur Shimamura.). In my view, the ‘evaluate’ aspect – where every student checks their own learning – needs thought.  It’s not feasible for teachers to check every student’s understanding in a responsive manner at the frequency needed.  Teachers need to teach students how to self-assess and to deploy students as resources for one another – checking each other’s work – as Dylan Wiliam stresses in the five Wiliam/Thompson strategies for formative assessment:   Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies. […]

Agree with you it needs thought. The danger will be if the student understands the idea of solving a problem step by step or getting the number right.

Very good read. This is the approach that is taken in my personalized learning practice for my third grade classroom. Students are goal setting and tracking data. They are able to explain what they are learning and why. They know how to explain the purpose for their activity and how it translates to the end goal. They are collaborating with their peers and receiving timely feedback that includes next steps. This all leads to them taking ownership in their work and communication with their peers and teacher. Excellent read and resource!

[…] Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies.: For me, these five strategies are really important ideas and are not referred to enough.  Here I link them to other ideas from Rosenshine, Berger and so on. […]

[…] a good question.  As I’ve outlined in this post about the five Wiliam/Thompson strategies Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies. there is a strong link from each of these ideas to other ideas from cognitive science and other […]

[…] Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies. – Tom Sherrington […]

Thank you for this information, very interesting, my problem is that I find it too theoretical, I need practical examples, do you have anything practical to share?

[…] Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies. […]

[…] https://teacherhead.com/2019/01/10/revisiting-dylan-wiliams-five-brilliant-formative-assessment-stra&#8230 ; […]

[…] Click to access article […]

[…] Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies. […]

[…] Dylan Wiliam’s formative assessment research […]

Yes the strategies are good ,OBE related and more theoretical. I didn’t here anything practical and nowadays learners learn best when they are hands on or learning by doing. Also when the lecturer becomes a learner and students become their own teachers thats where you will see great results because each one will be teaching each one. Theres a lot that you can learn from your learners as learners also learn a lot from the teacher as he or she is the manager, the monitor, assessor, facilitator , activator etc in the learning enviroment.

[…] and ‘responsive teaching‘. This has been expanded upon by individuals such as Dylan Wilian, David Didau, Tom Sherrington and Doug Lemov in recent […]

[…] Adapted from Wiliam, Thompson 2007 by Teacherhead […]

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The Teaching Couple

Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies

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Written by Dan

Dylan Wiliam’s perspective on formative assessment has been a seminal force in shaping educational practices. He asserts that effective assessment is more than a mere tool for measuring student knowledge; it’s an essential resource for enhancing learning.

Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies have become integral to modern teaching methodologies, emphasizing the importance of understanding and implementing these practices to support student achievement and foster an environment of continuous pedagogical improvement.

Related : For more, check out our article on Ten Ways To Check For Understanding here.

Dylan Wiliam's Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies

Understanding and embedding formative assessment in the curriculum are not just academic exercises but practical steps towards nurturing an engaged and self-regulated learner base.

The practical tools and strategies that Wiliam advocates for are designed to empower educators to advance their skills, thereby leading to a more effective and responsive learning experience.

These strategic approaches to assessment aim to create a classroom dynamic that supports a mutual endeavor for educational achievement, striking a balance between teaching and evaluating progress.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Formative assessment strategies are crucial for continuous student development and achievement.
  • Effective implementation of these strategies requires integration into daily teaching practices.
  • These assessment methods enhance both learner engagement and educator effectiveness.

Related : For more, check out our article on Co-Constructed Learning  here.

Understanding Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is not just about the tools one uses, but the approach to teaching and learning.

It emphasizes the importance of feedback, clear learning intentions, and gathering evidence of learning to inform instructional decisions.

Principles of Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is underpinned by several key principles. Firstly, it should be ongoing , allowing educators to gather continuous insights into students’ understanding.

Secondly, its primary goal is to enhance learning by identifying strengths and areas for improvement. Essential to this process is the clarity of learning intentions , which should be explicitly communicated to students.

These intentions guide students towards the knowledge and skills they are expected to develop.

The Role of Feedback

Feedback, within formative assessment, serves as a critical tool for supporting student development. It must be timely, clear, and actionable so that students have specific information on how to improve.

For feedback to be effective, it should relate directly back to the learning intentions and success criteria established at the outset of the learning process. This targeted feedback helps students understand their progress and next steps.

Features of Effective Assessment

An effective formative assessment is characterized by several features. It gathers evidence of learning through a variety of methods, such as quizzes, student discussions, or peer assessments.

This evidence informs the teacher’s understanding of students’ current capabilities and guides future instruction.

Moreover, it is adaptive, tailored to the individual’s learning path, and should empower students to take ownership of their learning by encouraging self-assessment and goal setting.

Related : For more, check out our article on Cold Calling: The #1 Strategy To Increase Engagement  here.

Dylan Wiliam’s Key Strategies

Dylan Wiliam outlines five key strategies in formative assessment that advance learning effectively.

These strategies encourage clear communication of objectives, foster engaging classroom discussions, and utilize learners as resources for understanding and improvement.

Clarifying Learning Intentions

Clarifying Learning Intentions involves explicitly defining what students are expected to learn. Dylan Wiliam emphasizes that providing a clear framework helps students understand the objectives of their learning journey.

This clarity guides students through the educational process, ensuring that they are aware of the targets they are aiming to achieve.

Engineering Effective Classroom Discussions

Under Engineering Effective Classroom Discussions , Dylan Wiliam identifies the critical role of conversation in the classroom that advances learning. He champions the use of well-thought-out questions and tasks that promote thoughtful student engagement.

This strategy is pivotal, as it gives instructors the opportunity to evaluate understanding and to correct misconceptions in real-time.

Activating Learners as Instructional Resources

Activating Learners as Instructional Resources refers to strategies where students are encouraged to teach and learn from each other. Wiliam highlights the idea of using the collective knowledge and insights of the learner group.

When students participate as both educators and learners, they are often able to express and grasp concepts in a language they find more relatable, leading to a deeper understanding.

Related : For more, check out our article on The #1 Problem In Teaching  here.

Enhancing Learner Engagement

Engaging learners effectively in the classroom involves empowering them to take control of their learning and ensuring that every student has the opportunity to participate. This dual approach helps to cultivate a sense of ownership and encourages active involvement.

Fostering Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is a critical skill for learners as it encompasses their ability to manage their own learning processes through metacognition and self-assessment.

Dylan Wiliam emphasizes that students should be activated as owners of their own learning. This involves teaching them to monitor and regulate their learning, which significantly increases their rate of learning.

Strategies to cultivate self-regulation include reflective activities where students assess their understanding and set goals for improvement.

Incorporating All-Student Response Techniques

All-Student Response Techniques are designed to involve every student in classroom discussions and activities. These techniques include the use of hand signals, clickers, or online polls to gauge student understanding in real time.

By eliciting evidence of learning from all students, teachers can provide feedback that moves learners forward. Moreover, these strategies transform students into learning resources for one another, amplifying the collective knowledge of the classroom.

Using these approaches, teachers can transform their classrooms into environments where learners are consistently engaged and motivated to advance their understanding autonomously.

Embedding Formative Assessments in Curriculum

Embedding formative assessments within curriculum planning involves strategic alignment with curriculum milestones and the integration of scaffolding and modelling to support student learning.

These approaches ensure that assessment is an ongoing, informative process, woven into the fabric of teaching, and directly connected to learning goals.

Linking to Curriculum Milestones

Curriculum milestones are key indicators of student progress and are essential in aligning formative assessments with defined educational goals. A teacher utilizing Dylan Wiliam’s embedding formative assessment techniques would:

  • Identify key learning objectives from the curriculum.
  • Develop assessment tasks that directly relate to these objectives.

By doing so, they ensure that assessments are meaningful and provide actionable insights into student understanding, guiding both instruction and learning.

Scaffolding and Modelling

Scaffolding is a method used to support learner development by providing temporary, adjustable support structures that can be lessened as learners increase in competence.

Educators can implement scaffolding in their formative assessment by:

  • Clearly articulating learning intentions .
  • Offering examples of high-quality work or success criteria.
  • Providing feedback that helps students identify their next steps in learning.

This supportive structure enables students to bridge gaps in their knowledge and skills, ensuring they are better equipped to meet curriculum milestones.

Tools for Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a crucial part of teaching, providing real-time feedback to inform instructional strategies and student learning objectives.

The use of technology and the design of effective tasks are innovative ways through which teachers can enhance the assessment process.

Technological Aids for Assessments

Incorporating technology into formative assessment allows for immediate feedback and data-driven insights. Various learning resources can be used with computers or MACs to facilitate this.

For instance, quiz platforms like Kahoot or Quizizz enable educators to quickly gauge student understanding through interactive questions. These platforms also engage students in a dynamic learning process, often increasing participation and motivation.

Furthermore, tools like Google Classroom can streamline the submission and review of assignments, making the distribution of tasks and collection of responses more efficient.

Designing Effective Tasks

The creation of tasks that are aligned with learning objectives is pivotal in securing effective formative assessments. Activities must be carefully engineered to elicit evidence of learning while promoting student engagement.

For example, designing multi-faceted problems that require critical thinking, or having students apply concepts in new contexts can offer deep insights into their comprehension and abilities. T

asks should provide opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding beyond rote memorization, including the application of concepts or skills in practical scenarios.

Assessment and Achievement

Effective formative assessment is a catalyst for student achievement. By harnessing the power of assessment data and aligning marking and grading strategies with learning objectives, educators can create a responsive teaching environment.

Assessment Data in Responsive Teaching

Assessment data serves as the backbone for responsive teaching. Teachers collect evidence of student learning through a variety of assessments, enabling them to tailor instruction to meet individual needs.

The goal is to create an adaptive learning environment where insights from assessments directly inform teaching strategies.

This responsive approach ensures that instruction is aligned with learning intentions, as outlined in Dylan Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies, to facilitate continuous academic progress.

Marking and Grading Strategies

Marking and grading strategies, when implemented thoughtfully, can significantly contribute to a student’s learning journey.

Instead of merely assigning grades, effective feedback provides learners with a clear understanding of their current performance relative to the learning targets and actionable steps for improvement.

This practice aligns with strategies such as engineering effective classroom discussions and activating students as learning resources for one another, fostering a collaborative learning atmosphere that celebrates progress and promotes achievement.

Advancing Educator Skills

Dylan Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies are crucial for educators looking to enhance their teaching skills and classroom effectiveness.

These strategies focus on refining educators’ abilities to gauge and respond to student learning needs in real-time.

Professional Development in Formative Assessment

Professional development programs grounded in Dylan Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies provide educators with a framework for ongoing improvement.

Teachers engage in collaborative learning sessions where they explore and adopt formative assessment techniques. By aligning their teaching methods with research-backed strategies, educators can cultivate a classroom environment that is continually responsive to student needs.

  • Clarifying learning intentions and success criteria.
  • Engineering effective discussions and tasks to elicit evidence of learning.
  • Providing actionable feedback.
  • Activating students as instructional resources for each other.
  • Activating students as owners of their own learning.

Educators are not only taught these strategies but are also supported to embed them into their daily practice, making assessment an integral part of the learning process rather than an endpoint.

Questioning Routines and Techniques

Effective questioning routines are imperative for fostering an environment of formative assessment. Educators are trained to employ questioning techniques that probe student understanding beyond surface-level responses.

This involves crafting questions that encourage critical thinking and require students to articulate their thought processes.

  • Open-ended questions that stimulate expansive thinking.
  • Wait time after questions, allowing students time to think and respond.
  • Sequential questioning that builds on student responses to deepen understanding.

Through these interactive questioning routines, educators can gather immediate, actionable feedback on student comprehension, leading to more responsive teaching methods that support each student’s learning journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dylan Wiliam's Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies

Exploring Dylan Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies reveals their potential to transform classroom learning. These FAQs aim to clarify their application and distinguish them from traditional assessment methods.

How do Dylan Wiliam’s strategies improve student learning through formative assessment?

Dylan Wiliam’s strategies promote ongoing assessment which in turn helps educators provide immediate feedback and support to students. By identifying learning gaps and successes in real-time, teachers can adjust their instruction to meet students’ needs more effectively.

What are the key differences between formative and summative assessments in the context of Wiliam’s framework?

Within Wiliam’s framework, formative assessments are part of the learning process, providing ongoing feedback and opportunities for improvement. Summative assessments, on the other hand, evaluate student learning at the conclusion of an instructional period and are typically used for grading purposes.

Can you list practical examples of formative assessments in classroom settings?

Examples of formative assessments include exit tickets, where students write about what they’ve learned at the end of a lesson; peer evaluations, which involve students assessing each other’s work; and strategic questioning during class discussions to gauge understanding.

How does John Hattie’s research on formative assessment complement Dylan Wiliam’s strategies?

John Hattie’s research supports the efficacy of formative assessments, emphasizing the significant impact of frequent and detailed feedback on students’ learning, which aligns with Wiliam’s principles of embedding assessment as a routine classroom practice.

What techniques can be implemented from Wiliam’s theories to enhance Assessment for Learning (AfL)?

Techniques from Wiliam’s theories that enhance AfL include using well-crafted learning intentions and success criteria, providing feedback that students can act on, and fostering a classroom culture where students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning.

What role does student-teacher feedback play in Dylan Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies?

Student-teacher feedback is central to Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies. It serves as a dialogue that informs teachers about students’ understanding and challenges, while also empowering students to reflect on their own progress and set goals for improvement.

Related Posts

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About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.

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5 formative strategies to improve student learning from Dylan Wiliam and NWEA

formative assessment dylan wiliam

In the book, he provides the five strategies he believes are core to successful formative assessment practice in the classroom:

1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success. That means getting students to really understand what their classroom experience will be and how their success will be measured.

2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning. This refers to developing effective classroom instructional strategies that allow for the measurement of success.

3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward. To accomplish this, teachers must work with students to provide them the information they need to better understand problems and solutions.

4. Activating learners as instructional resources for one another. Getting students involved with each other in discussions and working groups can help improve student learning.

5. Activating learners as owners of their own learning. Teaching students to monitor and regulate their learning increases their rate of learning.

At NWEA, we have a framework focused on four foundational formative assessment practices : clarifying learning, eliciting evidence, providing feedback, and activating learners. Understanding these four, key formative assessment practices can help educators determine which of the many strategies and tactics make sense for their classroom environment.

Get more formative assessment tips and tricks in our e-book “Making it work: How formative assessment can supercharge your practice.”

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Making it work: How formative assessment can supercharge your practice

Formative assessment isn’t new. But as our education system changes, our approaches to any instructional strategy must evolve. Learn how to put formative assessment to work in your classroom.

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Dylan Wiliam: Formative assessment

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Dylan Wiliam is Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at University College London. In a varied career, he has taught in inner-city schools, directed a large-scale testing programme, served a number of roles in university administration, including Dean of a School of Education, and pursued a research programme focused on supporting teachers to develop their use of assessment in support of learning.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

This video along with reflective questions invites you to consider the impact of your own approach to develop the use of formative assessment support the best learning and teaching. You are invited to watch the video and consider, individually or as a group, the following improvement questions:

  • How do you use formative assessment at present to support developing high quality learning and teaching?
  • What strategies could you use to maximise the use of formative assessment further?
  • How would you avoid offering feedback that focuses on the ego of the learner?

Explore this exemplar

What was done.

In this video clip, Dylan Wiliam discusses the power of formative assessment for children or young people to help them maximise their learning.

What brought about the change?

Dylan Wiliam, through this video clip, wants to ensure that all children and young people are provided with the best quality feedback at very regular intervals to enable the highest attainment and achievement for all.

What was the impact?

Study of this video clip leads to a focus ensuring all staff consider the power from providing formative assessment to enhance learning and improve attainment and achievement.

Download the video transcript

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Embedding formative assessment : practical techniques for K-12 classrooms

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Dylan Wiliam

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Embedded Formative Assessment (Strategies for Classroom Formative Assessment That Drives Student Engagement and Learning) (New Art and Science of Teaching)

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formative assessment dylan wiliam

Embedded Formative Assessment (Strategies for Classroom Formative Assessment That Drives Student Engagement and Learning) (New Art and Science of Teaching) 2nd Edition

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By integrating classroom formative assessment practices into daily activities, educators can substantially increase student engagement and the rate of student learning. The second edition of this best-selling book by Dylan Wiliam presents new research, insights, and formative assessment strategies teachers can immediately apply in their classrooms. Updated examples and templates are included to help teachers elicit evidence of learning, provide meaningful feedback, and empower students to take ownership of their education.

  • Reviewing the five key strategies of formative assessment in the classroom.
  • Learning more than 50 practical techniques for classroom formative assessment.
  • Examining research that states classroom formative assessment is the most impactful and cost-effective approach to raising student academic achievement.
  • Exploring the use of classroom questioning, learning intentions and success criteria, feedback, collaborative and cooperative learning, and self-regulated learning to engineer effective learning environments.
  • Discovering new insights into the current states of education and employment, and a discussion of how these changes affect student performance and teacher practice.

Changes for the Second Edition:

  • Over 30 percent new content including new research, techniques, examples, and templates
  • New insights into the current state of education and how these changes affect student performance and teacher practice
  • A deeper discussion of educational neuroscience, including memory studies and dual-pathway theory

Contents: Chapter 1: Discovering Why Educational Achievement Matters Chapter 2: Making the Case for Formative Assessment Chapter 3: Clarifying, Sharing, and Understanding Learning Intentions and Success Criteria Chapter 4: Eliciting Evidence of Learners' Achievement Chapter 5: Providing Feedback That Moves Learning Forward Chapter 6: Activating Students as Instructional Resources for One Another Chapter 7: Activating Students as Owners of Their Own Learning

  • ISBN-10 1945349220
  • ISBN-13 978-1945349225
  • Edition 2nd
  • Publisher Solution Tree Press
  • Publication date October 20, 2017
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 6.93 x 0.55 x 9.92 inches
  • Print length 240 pages
  • See all details

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Editorial Reviews

-- Eileen Depka , Author, Formative Assessment in the RTI Framework

About the Author

Dylan Wiliam, PhD, is a consultant who works with educators in North America, the United Kingdom, and many other countries to develop effective, research-based formative assessment practices. He is former deputy director of the Institute of Education at the University of London. From teaching in urban public schools to directing a large-scale testing program to serving in university administration, his professional path has led to a variety of positions at the forefront of education. Dr. Wiliam was also, from 2003 to 2006, senior research director at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey.

During his early years of teaching in inner-city classrooms, Dr. Wiliam focused on physics and mathematics. He later joined the faculty of Chelsea College, University of London, which later became part of King's College London. Here, he worked on developing innovative assessment schemes in mathematics before accepting leadership of the King's College Mathematics Education Program.

For three years, Dr. Wiliam served as the academic coordinator of the Consortium for Assessment and Testing in Schools, which developed a variety of assessments for the national curriculum of England and Wales. He then returned to King's College to serve as dean of the School of Education before being promoted to assistant principal of the college.

In 1998, he coauthored a major review of research evidence on formative assessment with Paul Black and has worked with many teachers in the United Kingdom and United States on developing formative assessment practices to support learning.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Solution Tree Press; 2nd edition (October 20, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Perfect Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1945349220
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1945349225
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.31 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.93 x 0.55 x 9.92 inches
  • #65 in Education Assessment (Books)
  • #682 in Instruction Methods
  • #1,249 in Unknown

About the author

Dylan wiliam.

Dylan Wiliam, PhD, is a consultant who works with educators all over the world to develop effective, research-based teaching. He is former deputy director (Provost) of the Institute of Education at the University of London. From teaching in urban public schools to directing a large-scale testing program to serving in university administration, his professional path has led to a variety of positions at the forefront of education.

After completing an undergraduate degree in science and mathematics, he taught mathematics, science and English in private and urban public schools for eight years during which time he gained further degrees in mathematics and mathematics education. In 1984 he joined the faculty of Chelsea College, University of London, which later became part of King's College London. Here, he worked on developing innovative assessment schemes in mathematics before taking on the leadership of the College's mathematics teacher preparation program.

From 1989 to 1991, Dr. Wiliam served as the academic coordinator of the Consortium for Assessment and Testing in Schools, which developed a variety of assessments for the national curriculum of England and Wales. He then returned to King's College to serve as Dean of the School of Education before being promoted to assistant principal of the college. From 2003 to 2006 Dr. Wiliam was senior research director at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey.

During his academic career, he has written over 300 books, chapters and articles including a major review of research on formative assessment coauthored with Paul Black. He left the University of London in 2010 to focus on working more directly with teachers, and now spends his time working with teachers all over the world on improving teaching and learning. He lives physically in Princeton, NJ and virtually at www.dylanwiliam.net. You can follow him on Twitter at @dylanwiliam.

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formative assessment dylan wiliam

IMAGES

  1. Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment

    formative assessment dylan wiliam

  2. Embedded Formative Assessment: by Dylan Wiliam

    formative assessment dylan wiliam

  3. Dylan Wiliam on Formative Assessment

    formative assessment dylan wiliam

  4. Revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s Five Brilliant Formative Assessment

    formative assessment dylan wiliam

  5. Impact on Twitter

    formative assessment dylan wiliam

  6. What you will learn from Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam

    formative assessment dylan wiliam

VIDEO

  1. Dylan Crawford Formative assessment 11/04/24

  2. Dylan Crawford formative assessment 11/04/24

  3. Dylan Crawford formative assessment 11/04/24

  4. Dylan Crawford formative assessment 11/04/24

  5. Dylan Crawford formative assessment 11/04/24

  6. How can educational research improve schools? (researchED Scandinavia 2023)

COMMENTS

  1. Welcome to Dylan Wiliam's website

    The revised Embedding formative assessment pack for schools and colleges to run their own two-year professional development programme on formative assessment is now available worldwide. ... Also, a series of high-quality video presentations by Dylan Wiliam, with a total running time of over two hours, is now available free world-wide. ...

  2. Revisiting Dylan Wiliam's Five Brilliant Formative Assessment

    In many of Dylan Wiliam's talks and publications he references five 'key strategies' that support the implementation of effective formative assessment. The five strategies each get a chapter in his excellent book Embedding Formative Assessment (2011) which builds on the work he developed with other colleagues in the 90s and 00s. The five strategies were…

  3. PDF Formative Assessment: Definitions and Relationships

    Dylan Wiliam, Institute of Education, University of London Abstract ... of the terms "formative assessment" and "assessment for learning" are discussed, and subsumed within a broad definition that focuses on the extent to which instructional decisions are supported by evidence. The paper concludes by exploring some of the

  4. Dylan Wiliam's Five Brilliant Formative Assessment Strategies

    Student-teacher feedback is central to Wiliam's formative assessment strategies. It serves as a dialogue that informs teachers about students' understanding and challenges, while also empowering students to reflect on their own progress and set goals for improvement. Dylan Wiliam's perspective on formative assessment has been a seminal ...

  5. 5 formative strategies to improve student learning from Dylan Wiliam

    Dylan Wiliam's book Embedded Formative Assessment is filled with a number of insights. The foundation of the book highlights the importance of formative assessment as a tool to improve teacher practice and ultimately improve student learning. ... Get more formative assessment tips and tricks in our e-book "Making it work: How formative ...

  6. PDF Keeping learning on track: formative assessment and the ...

    formative assessment and the regulation of learning Paper presented at the 20th biennial meeting of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, Sydney, Australia, January 2005 Dylan Wiliam, ETS Introduction "I'd love to teach for deep understanding, but I have to raise my students' test scores." I

  7. Embedded Formative Assessment

    Embedded Formative Assessment. Dylan Wiliam. Solution Tree Press, Nov 1, 2011 - Education - 200 pages. Formative assessment plays an important role in increasing teacher quality and student learning when it's viewed as a process rather than a tool. Emphasizing the instructional side of formative assessment, this book explores in depth the use ...

  8. Dylan Wiliam: Formative assessment

    Watch as Dylan Wiliam reviews the nature of formative assessment and how teachers can use it to gain better insights into student learning and achievement.

  9. Dylan Wiliam: Formative assessment

    Dylan Wiliam is Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at University College London. In a varied career, he has taught in inner-city schools, directed a large-scale testing programme, served a number of roles in university administration, including Dean of a School of Education, and pursued a research programme focused on supporting teachers to develop their use of assessment in support ...

  10. Formative Assessment: Getting the Focus Right

    Formative assessment: getting the focus right. Dylan Wiliam, ETS. Writing in 1967, Michael Scriven suggested two roles that evaluation might play. On the. one hand, " it may have a role in the ...

  11. The role of formative assessment in effective learning environments

    Dylan Wiliam describes assessment as the bridge between teaching and learning. The concept of " formative assessment" emerged with recognition of the importance of feedback and application of navigational metaphors about staying on course through corrective steering. There is substantial evidence, reviewed here, on how feedback improves learning but most studies suffer from weak ...

  12. Embedded Formative Assessment

    By integrating classroom formative assessment practices into daily activities, educators can substantially increase student engagement and the rate of student learning. The second edition of this best-selling book by Dylan Wiliam presents new research, insights, and formative assessment strategies teachers can immediately apply in their classrooms.

  13. Embedding formative assessment : practical techniques for K-12

    Wiliam, Dylan, author. Publication date 2015 Topics ... Effective classroom formative assessment helps educators make minute-by-minute, day-by-day instructional decisions. This guide for teachers centers on five key instructional strategies, along with an overview of each strategy and practical formative assessment techniques for implementing ...

  14. ‪Dylan Wiliam‬

    Dylan Wiliam. Emeritus professor of educational assessment, University of London. Verified email at ioe.ac.uk - Homepage. Education. Articles Cited by Co-authors. Title. ... Handbook of formative assessment, 18-40, 2010. 477: 2010: Standardized testing and school accountability. D Wiliam. Educational Psychologist 45 (2), 107-122, 2010. 415:

  15. Unpacking Formative Assessment

    Dylan Wiliam unpacks formative assessment, discussing the five strategies that make up a smart formative assessment strategy: setting learning intentions, q...

  16. Embedding Formative Assessment

    Effective classroom formative assessment helps educators make minute-by-minute, day-by-day instructional decisions. This clear, practical guide for teachers centers on five key instructional strategies, along with an overview of each strategy and practical formative assessment techniques for implementation in K-12 classrooms. ... Dylan Wiliam ...

  17. Embedded Formative Assessment (Strategies for Classroom Formative

    By integrating classroom formative assessment practices into daily activities, educators can substantially increase student engagement and the rate of student learning. The second edition of this best-selling book by Dylan Wiliam presents new research, insights, and formative assessment strategies teachers can immediately apply in their classrooms.

  18. Full article: Classroom assessment, pedagogy and learning

    The whole issue of 1998 is worth re-reading - as is the new article by Black and Wiliam published in this issue, 20 years after their 1998 article. In the first article of this issue, Black and Wiliam ( 2018) outline how they have tried to contribute to theorising formative assessment in previous work, still recognising that this work is ...

  19. Developing the theory of formative assessment

    Revise of 3 rd November 08. Developing the theory of formative assessment. Paul Black, King's College London, and. Dylan Wiliam, Institute of Education, University of London. To appear in ...

  20. The role of formative assessment in effective learning environments

    Dylan Wiliam describes assessment as the bridge between teaching and learning. The concept of " formative assessment" emerged with recognition of the importance of feedback and application of navigational metaphors about staying on course through corrective steering. There is substantial evidence, reviewed here, on how feedback improves ...

  21. PA Week 2 EDUC 5440 Assessment and Evaluation

    EDUC 5440: Assessment and Evaluation Unit 2: Portfolio Activity According to Wiliam(2000) in his work " Integrating Formative and Summative Functions of Assessment," there are four assessment functions that must be coupled to produce more reliable information for a variety of reasons. According to him, formative assessment has two purposes: It teaches students about their challenges and skills ...

  22. Embedded Formative Assessment

    Embedded Formative Assessment. Dylan Wiliam. Solution Tree Press, 2011 - Education - 189 pages. If we want our students to thrive in the impossibly complex, unpredictable world of the 21st century, we must concentrate on increasing educational achievement by increasing the quality of the teachers in our schools. new In this book Dylan Wiliam ...