The complexities of change: formative assessment in Scotland

Hayward, L. and Spencer, E. (2010) The complexities of change: formative assessment in Scotland. Curriculum Journal, 21(2), pp. 161-177. (doi: 10.1080/09585176.2010.480827)

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Plans for curriculum or pedagogical innovation often lead to little change in practice. Many innovations successful in their early stages fail later, with little post-innovation analysis to understand why. In Scotland, in 2001, the Scottish Executive Education Department initiated the Assessment is for Learning (AifL) programme. Recognising problems in previous national attempts to improve assessment in Scotland, AifL attempted to explore ways in which an integrated and coherent system of assessment might be developed, with learning and learners at its centre. Two evaluations of the first phase of AifL indicated that the programme was having some impact. Changes in teachers' assessment practices were perceived to have been taking place, but questions remained about why practices were changing and what implications there might be for AifL as it was scaled up. This article offers an interpretative commentary on a study that sought to explore in greater depth issues raised in the two earlier evaluative studies of the AifL programme. While there is widespread recognition that meaningful change is a complex process, the article interrogates ideas of complexity. Finally, the article uses understandings of complexity to challenge simplistic ideas of scaling up projects and concludes that learning how to live with complexity is a necessary feature of designing models for change in classrooms, in schools and in wider educational systems.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hayward, Professor Louise and Spencer, Mr Ernest
Authors: Hayward, L., and Spencer, E.
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:Curriculum Journal
ISSN (Online):1469-3704

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