Introduction. suit different situations, learning styles and

Introduction.
Pedagogy is the theory and practice of teaching, or the ‘science, craft and art
of teaching’ (Pollard, A, 2010), (Loughran, J, 2006). Learning is most
effective when teaching implements a wide variety of techniques and strategies
that are tailored to meet each pupil’s individual needs and requirements. For
educational practice there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach for students’
learning and progress. Pedagogical strategies, therefore, need to be combined
and ‘mixed’ to suit different situations, learning styles and learning
outcomes, to allow for maximum progress to be made by students in their education
(Bhowmik, M., Banerjee, B., Banerjee, J. 2013, p1), (Joyce, B & Weil, M.
1986). As teachers often ‘blend’ teaching strategies and approaches (Jane, M.
2006) and use them in unison, it may be difficult to assess which pedagogical
strategy is most effective and has the biggest impact on pupil learning, especially
as “some techniques are better suited to students from certain backgrounds,
learning styles and abilities” (Bhowmik et al, 2013, p01). Therefore, this
assessment will focus specifically on assessment for learning within the
Secondary Education phase and evaluate its potential impact on student learning.

What is Pedagogy?
In order to recognise how pedagogical strategies impact students’
learning, individuals must first have an understanding of ‘pedagogy’ and theories
of learning within this concept. “‘Pedagogy’
is the practice of teaching, framed and informed by a shared and structured
body of knowledge. This knowledge comprises experience, evidence, understanding
moral purpose and shared transparent values.” (Pollard, A, 2010, p5). A
teacher’s focus should be towards ‘mastering’ the expertise, this is an ongoing
process as there is no set amount of knowledge for teaching. Teaching and
learning are linked and one cannot happen without the other. The purpose of
teaching is to positively influence learning, however, the two are so closely
connected that learning also has an effect on the teaching process. Students
should be engaged and have their learning influenced through the implementation
of effective and well planned teaching, however, if learning is not occurring
or progress is limited, approaches must be adapted and suited to students, to
ensure learning is taking place, thus, influencing the teaching process
(Loughran, J, 2006). Learning and progress occurs every day through trial and
error of practice, observation of students’ requirements and dealing with
unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, teachers should be self-aware of their own
learning and practice and how it can improve, they should be able and willing
to examine and assess their own practice, as well as the practice of others,
against relevant theories, values and evidence (Pollard, A, 2010).

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Teaching strategies, actions and decisions are influenced by the pupils, if an
approach is not working in a lesson or with a particular group of students, it
must be adapted to ensure pupil’s understanding and progress is developed, not
hindered. Each student learns differently and at varying speeds, therefore, it
is vital that teaching practitioners take into account relevant theories of
learning and have a good understanding of their students, as well as their
specific requirements, backgrounds and personal interests. The ‘science’ of
teaching is as Pollard states, education professionals making tactical
decisions based on what is observed during a lesson or over a period of time,
in order to ensure effective learning is taking place. However, due to the
demands of the classroom or working area, teachers are also required to make
spontaneous judgements and choices. The unplanned decisions made, along with
the teacher’s relationship with students; the positive environments they create
for learning and finally, the ability to utilise opportunities for unexpected
learning, are the ‘craft’ and ‘art’ of pedagogy (Pollard, A, 2010).

Theories of learning.
A lot of research has been conducted over the differences between
“teacher-centred” and “student-centred” pedagogy within the secondary education
sector (Cicchelli, T, 1983). Teacher-centred pedagogy is usually described as
the teacher taking control and responsibility for passing knowledge to students
and developing their understanding of concepts. Due to the various processes
and experiences education professionals participate in, including initial
teacher training, where individuals develop their knowledge and skills of
teaching and learn how to effectively apply these in professional practice
(Loughran, J, 2006,). Along with, ongoing progression; evaluation of own
performance; classroom enquiry and structured practice, teachers are seen to
have a greater expertise over subject knowledge and are therefore, in the best
position to decide the structure and information delivered in lessons (Pollard,
A, 2010), (Mascolo, M. F, 2009).

Teacher-centred pedagogy is often understood to implement the use of lectures
as the main medium of how information is transferred to students. The lecture
method is assumed to be a one-sided process in which the teacher provides
information and explains areas from their own knowledge, while students are
passive and receive the content, rather than the teacher structuring lessons
around questions students might have, in order to extend on their learning and
develop their understanding (Mascolo, M. F, 2009). This approach may be viewed
as ineffective as only teaching is occurring, there is no opportunity for
students to demonstrate learning. This is vital as pedagogy is not just the
process of transferring knowledge to students, it is also dependent on the
relationship between teaching and learning and how when used in unison they
result in increased knowledge and understanding (Loughran, J, 2006).

In contrast, student-centred pedagogy is based on the ‘model’ of an active
student, from this theory’s perspective, the students are responsible for their
own education, while teachers are there to facilitate learning (Mascolo, M. F,
2009). The teacher’s role is to aid students by giving them the content and
information, as well as constructive feedback and encouragement to extend and
improve on their work. They should not limit students’ responses by asking
closed questions that require simple recall answers, and should instead ask open-ended
questions that could warrant a diversity of answers (James, M, 2006). This
gives teachers the opening to take full advantage of unexpected learning
opportunities, by explaining and expanding knowledge that was not initially
planned for the lesson. By extending questioning and challenging views or
outcomes that might usually be overlooked, it allows learners to be open-minded
and consider new and differing insights, this process enables students to
improve in their learning and develop their understanding (Loughran, J, 2006).

The teacher’s duty is to present pupils with relevant examples of the information
they are learning, in order to fill in gaps of knowledge and provide them with
a better understanding of the concepts. Their purpose is also to encourage
students to review and summarise the objectives of the lesson and draw their
own conclusions of the activity. Finally, teachers should encourage students to
explore new activities and decide on different topics of study. The student has
the sole role of showing their readiness to move forwards in their learning (Hancock,
D. R., Bray M & Nason, S. A, 2003). This theory seems effective when
described in this way, however, in order for this theory to be effective,
pupils need to recognise the importance of education and make independent choices
to be successful. For example, by taking full advantage of feedback and
implementing it in order to improve, being accountable for their approach to learning
and using independent thinking to come to their own conclusions and construct
their own views (Ko, J, 2016). However, this approach may be ineffective in an
environment where students may not understand or care about the importance of
education and where they may not have the opportunities, or receive the support
required to achieve. If students are under-achieving and require additional
support, letting them be responsible for how they complete tasks and what they
want to study may be detrimental to their learning and progress.

Student-centred pedagogy can be traced back to Constructivist
developmental theories (Kolb, D.A., 1984; DeVries, R & Kohlberg, L., 1987;
Fosnot, C. T & Perry, R. S, 2005). Within Constructivist theories, students
are builders of their own cognitive tools and ‘what goes on in pupil’s heads’
determines the course and structure of lessons. Their focus is on how students constantly
make sense of information and how they construct and reconstruct meaning
through organising structures, concepts, experiences and values (Piaget, J
& Inhelder, B, 1997), (Papert, S 1980), (Ben-Ari, M, 2001). Constructivism
views a student’s existing education as a strong indicator of their ability to
absorb and retain new knowledge, they also put importance on ensuring
understanding and addressing misconceptions to confirm and extend learning.
Student achievement from a Constructivist viewpoint is determined by a
students’ ability to organise information and retrieve it quickly, to
understand theories and to process strategies. Therefore, they view the role of
the teacher as one that aids students in developing these skills and helping
them progress their level of understanding (James, M, 2006), (Ben-Ari, M, 2001).
With importance placed on a student’s prior learning as an influence on their
new learning, formative assessments play a vital role in pedagogic practice due
to it being necessary to encourage students’ thinking. For example, through the
use of specific language and key words, open-ended questions, discussions and
brainstorming, in order to build on their existing knowledge and give them the
opportunity to apply these ideas and strategies in practice. In this context,
teaching and assessment are used together to achieve the goal of learning,
especially filling in student’s gaps in knowledge and understanding (James, M,
2006), (Jones, C. A, 2005).

Behaviourist theories believe that pupil’s learning and progress is
determined by the environment they are taught in, more specifically, that
students learn best individually or as part of a group with similar ability
levels. However, there is contradictory research to suggest that putting
students into groups based on ability does not raise learning standards and
rather weakens standards for students who are placed in lower ability groups (Bousted,
M, 2018). Behaviourist theories view the use of praise and punishment as
effective methods of forming desirable behaviours and eliminating bad habits. These
theories have the opinion that complex tasks are made easier to achieve when
they are ‘broken down’ into sections, these sections are then practised,
‘mastered’ and extended upon (Muijs, D & Reynolds, D, 2017), (James, M,
2006), (Shepard, L. A, 1991). However, these theories have their limitations as
they do not feel human consciousness is required to explain learning and are
only interested in behaviours demonstrated by students. Therefore, student’s
achievement in learning is equated with their ability to absorb and retain a
variety of skills and information, as well as their ability to memorise facts.
Performance is usually interpreted as right or wrong and underachievement is
resolved by further practice, or by taking skills and content back to basics to
ensure learning and progress (James, M, 2006).

Social Constructivist theories believe that learning is most effective
when students interact with their social environment. Thinking occurs through
actions that change the situation and the situation changes the thinking,
Social Constructivist theories believe that these two concepts constantly work
together to be most effective. Language is the primary medium in which we think
and these theories perceive language to be developed in interactions with other
individuals. Vygotsky, L.S (1978) states that social relationships are required
for, and precede, learning. Therefore, learning can be defined as a social
activity that requires individuals working together to develop their thinking
as a group. From this viewpoint, the term ‘two heads are better than one’ is a
viable statement, learning happens through collaboration with others, for
example, discussing and sharing ideas with a group. The information shared and
learned in this process belongs to the social group as a whole, and the
collective knowledge of the group is considered to be more effective than a
sole individuals’. Social Constructivist theories see these social interactions
as a way that individuals develop their own identity, this involves the student
being an influence on a group and in turn, being influenced by a group they are
working within (James, M, 2006). Students are also influenced by the teacher’s
behaviours and values, and the more these are demonstrated in practice, the
more likely students are to develop their own. Therefore, the social
interactions between teachers and pupils is vital as identity construction and
personal progress combine to ‘shape the nature of pedagogy itself’ (Loughran,
J, 2006, p2). ‘These theories provide interesting descriptions and explanations
of learning in communities of practice but newer research is not yet developed
enough in terms of their effects for teaching and assessment, particularly the
latter and especially in school contexts’ (James, M, 2006, p10).

Social Constructivist theories believe education professionals are duty bound
to create a learning environment where students are provided with ‘stimuli’ to
think about and challenging tasks to complete. Students should be supplied with
tasks that they cannot complete independently, and rather activities that
require some help and guidance from an expert, in order to build on the
student’s current level of knowledge and understanding. Tasks require a
collaborative learning experience between teachers and students, where students
are actively involved in identifying problems and solutions. “Teachers and
students work together to solve problems and all develop their skill and
understanding” (James, M, 2006, p11). This is a vast contrast to the
teacher-centred approach in which teachers supply information to passive
students, without any collaboration or extension of learning taking place
(Mascolo, M. F, 2009).

Assessment for Learning.
‘The learning outcomes of most
importance to enable human prosperity – are those that allow students to
continue learning, when and where required, in a rapidly changing, information and
technology rich environment. There is a need, therefore, for teachers to have
an understanding about which strategies and methods of learning are best suited
and most valuable for their students and to choose and develop approaches to
teaching and assessment accordingly’ (James, M. 2006, p3).

Assessment for learning (AFL) is any assessment that is designed and employed
with the main purpose of developing a pupil’s progress and learning. This
differs from assessment that is applied to measure ranking or aptitude, for
example, multiple choice or short answer questions that rely on retention and
regurgitation of facts, rather than the ability to understand concepts and
information (Brown, S, 2005). Other methods of assessment may not always take
into consideration how students are able to understand and learn information,
the issues some students may face and the interventions to overcome these
difficulties (James, M. 2006). Brown states that to ‘ensure assessment is part
of the learning process, it should implement student-centred assessments that
are based upon a student-centred curriculum’ (Brown, S, 2005). AFL is crucial
to effective teaching, as during the learning process, teachers and learners
receive feedback from every activity that is completed. An effective AFL activity
needs to be central to the learning process and if applied correctly, can aid
in improving student’s knowledge and learning, if it provides information that
teachers and pupils can use as feedback (Cambridge International Examinations, 2015).
Feedback can be used for pupils to self-assess and peer-assess and being able
to effectively perform this task will demonstrate student’s knowledge of the
subject and that they are aware of what they need to do to improve. It also
allows the teacher the opportunity to evaluate their own performance and
recognise where lessons and activities may need to be adapted, to ensure all
students gain the knowledge and information required to improve their learning.
This process then becomes “formative assessment” as the teaching and activities
are altered to meet the requirements of the pupils, to enable them to progress
and achieve learning outcomes (Brown, S, 2005), (Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee,
C., Marshall, B & William, D. 2004). Formative assessment contrasts to
summative assessment in that students are evaluated regularly, rather than at
the end of a scheme of work. Formative assessments apply interactive tasks to
gauge pupils’ progress and levels of understanding, in order for the teachers to
identify learning requirements and tailor their approaches accordingly, to
ensure students develop. It is claimed that education professionals who use
formative assessments are more prepared to meet a wide variety of learning needs,
through the employment of differentiated teaching to increase achievement among
all students (Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2008). Formative
assessment is recognised as having a close relationship to AFL, with some
individuals perceiving it to be a single concept and others seeing it as a sub-section
of AFL. However, other researchers view them as separate terms, with AFL viewed
as the “teaching and learning process” and formative assessment as the
implementation of tasks to guide future learning (Cambridge International
Examinations, 2015), (Swaffield, S, 2008).

Formative assessment places an importance on the relationship between teaching
and learning, and can be linked to Social Constructivist theories, as it uses
interactive tasks to fully involve students in the learning process. By doing
this, teachers and students work together in this process which results in both
improving their knowledge and understanding and developing skills. This type of
assessments also enables students to improve their self-assessment and peer-assessment
skills (OECD, 2008), (James, M, 2006). Pupils will progress more quickly
towards a learning objective if they have clear instructions on how to do so
and understand the criteria they must reach in order for them to achieve,
therefore, self-assessment is critical to the learning process. As well as
evaluating their own performance, students are encouraged to evaluate each
other’s performance. This method is an important factor to pupil’s learning as
they may not accept criticism or feedback from a teacher, but may be willing to
accept it from their peers. The comprehension of this criticism may also be
more effective coming from peers, as the information will be delivered using a
vocabulary the students understand, rather than dialog from an education
professional, which may not necessarily provide students with a clear
indication of what they need to do to improve (Black et al, 2004).

Self-assessment and peer-assessment are vitally important to the learning process
and have a bigger impact on students’ learning than receiving feedback and
criticism from a teacher alone. Peer-assessment gives students the opportunity
to receive feedback in a way they easily understand, which is an obvious
benefit when it comes to increasing overall knowledge and extending learning. This
co-operative process can also be likened to Social Constructivist and
student-centred learning theories, in the way that it allows students to share,
challenge and develop knowledge and ideas through participation in social
interactions. By considering differing opinions and new concepts, students are
able to develop their understanding and extend their learning (Loughran, J,
2006), this reflection by students can also be utilised by the teacher, as it
highlights areas where students may have misconceptions or gaps in knowledge
and allows the teacher the opportunity to focus on, and address these areas, to
develop students’ learning. Therefore, it is clear that peer-assessment and
self-assessment have a positive impact on pupils’ learning, as these processes
result in outcomes that cannot be achieved by any other method and are
effective in securing ‘deeper’ learning (Black et al, 2004), (Brown, S, 2005).
Research into Formative assessments in secondary education showed that when
this process was employed, student’s demonstrated an overall increase in
learning; showed an increase in participation during lessons, developed their ability
to effectively self-assess and finally, achieved better grades (Lopez-Pastor,
V. M., Monjas, R & Manrique, J. C., 2011). When utilised in Secondary
Physical Education, peer-assessment was shown to provide more feedback, an
increase in students’ learning and helped to develop a more positive relationship
among groups (Butler, S. A & Hodge, S. R, 2001).

Conclusion.
In conclusion, AFL can be proven to have a positive effect on students’
development and learning and is better suited to a student-centred approach to
learning, where students are actively involved in the learning process. Feedback
is an effective tool for addressing misconceptions, building and extending knowledge
and allowing students to understanding exactly what they need to do to progress
in their learning.