Feedback, Talk and Engaging with Learners - Formative Assessment in Adult Numeracy

This is the report of a project that focused on the development and evaluation of teaching strategies for formative assessment in numeracy.

Jeremy Hodgen
Diana Coben
Valerie Rhodes
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
King's College London
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

This research report is based on a project that focused on the development and evaluation of teaching strategies for formative assessment in numeracy. It was a collaborative project involving King's College London researchers working with a team of teacher-researchers. The report describes and evaluates the changes in classroom practice that occurred in the project, particularly those involving the clarification and communication of assessment criteria to learners and the processes by which this comes about. The project aimed to devise a research evidence-based teaching approach for adult numeracy learners using formative assessment strategies, and to carry out a trial implementation and evaluation of it. It addressed the following research questions:

  • How can formative assessment best be devised for and successfully incorporated into adult numeracy teaching?
  • What are the best methods and materials to use whereby formative assessment can be incorporated into normal adult numearcy classroom activities?

In comparison to other educational interventions, the research evidence on the efficacy of formative assessment is impressive, yet there is little research on how formative assessment can be implemented in adult numeracy settings. The research identifies a number of strategies specific to adult numearcy that can be disseminated through pamphlets and training.

What the experts say

This excellent paper provides a clear rationale for the benefits of using formative assessment to guide instruction.  The paper is very well-written and accessible to teachers.  The many examples of teacher-learner conversations are real, interesting, and model the use of the strategies described.  The formative assessment strategies promoted are congruent with best practices in numeracy instruction.

The ideas in this resource are very relevant to teachers of pupils of all ages including adult education. That being said, it is long and the strategies and support for the strategies take some time to read and digest.  This resource could easily be used as part of a study circle for adult numeracy teachers on examining and reflecting on instructional practice.  A study circle that focuses on formative assessment across adult education numeracy and literacy content could also use this resource to compare and contrast strategies for assessing numeracy and literacy.  The best use of this resource would be to have a small group of teachers discuss its suggestions, implement them in their classrooms, and then present their own findings to the rest of the staff.

Section 4 contains descriptions of most of the strategies and the final section provides a nice summary of the research.  The entire article is deeply relevant to the field of adult education.  Among the most useful features are rich descriptions of instructional strategies that elicit meaningful information for both the teacher and learners about the learners' understanding of mathematical concepts.  Further, the examples of teacher-learner interactions help the reader understand the concept and benefit of formative assessment.


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