In Scotland, raising standards and closing the attainment gap has been the prime educational focus for the Scottish Government. In February 2015, the Scottish Attainment Challenge was launched by the first minister to make this a priority for local authorities (www.gov.scot). Government policies and initiatives of this sort certainly have value in reaching the overall goal of narrowing the attainment gap, however, effective “learning is driven by what teachers and pupils do in the classroom” (Black and Wiliam, 1998). Effective teaching plays a vital role in the classroom and in the success of the individual pupils. Assessment is only one aspect of such effective teaching, however, Black and Wiliam (1998) argue that formative assessment is “at the heart” of this.
It has been widely acknowledged by researchers and professionals, that assessment in schools is “an integral part of teaching and learning” (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment,2004, p.2). Assessment of both, informs pedagogy and can promote effective learning in the classroom. Formative assessment is used extensively in the primary setting and is explicitly concerned with the “processes of teaching and learning” (Clarke, 2001, p. 2) whilst the pupil is on task; enhancing the learning and increasing the chance of success. Vygotsky’s (1978) research, which suggests that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of learning, directly links to peer-assessment, as the technique is concerned with “activating students as instructional resources for one another” (Bennett, 2011). When used in a formative way, the intent is to “help pupils help each other plan their learning, identify their strengths and weaknesses and to develop their metacognitive skills” (Topping, 2009, p. 20).
For this inquiry, the focus will be on peer-assessment, and more specifically, the ways in which the two stars and a wish technique can be used to support and progress pupils’ learning.
The main aims of this inquiry are to engage in professional, academic reading surrounding peer-assessment and record what happens when the two stars and a wish technique is introduced to pupils in the classroom.