July 09, 2018

Book Review: Assessment – Evidence–Based Teaching for Enquiring Teachers, Chris Atherton

Book Review: Assessment - Evidence-Based Teaching for Enquiring Teachers, Chris Atherton by Will Haywood

For a small book, Assessment: Evidence-based Teaching for Enquiring Teachers, packs a big punch. In the 92 pages of content, Chris Atherton covers nine chapters which are clearly organised and perfect for dipping into, or easy to read cover to cover. The book starts by introducing key ideas and debates around assessment; before giving an outline of the how ideas in assessment have developed and mapping out existing evidence and research in this area.

Discrete chapters then go on to address areas such as feedback, peer learning and metacognition before exploring how assessment has been implemented in various contexts around the world; finishing with a guide of how to take an evidence-based approach to the development of your practice in assessment. The chapter on assessment and memory draws on cognitive science to explain the key role of assessment in the learning process, particularly through techniques such as retrieval practice.

Throughout the book, good use is made of clear tables which offer definitions and explanations of key terms. The two-page research map on assessment in chapter two is a particularly good resource and will be valuable to anybody looking to embark on further reading around assessment. Each chapter concludes with a clear summary, followed by questions to consider around your own practice/assessment practice in your school and finally one or two recommendations of key sources for further reading.

Trainee teachers (and more experience teachers) will find this book a useful starting point for understanding key ideas in assessment and as signposting to key authors and sources for further reading. It is helpful both for the development of professional practice in assessment and supporting the development of critical analysis and academic writing in this area. Some teachers may be looking for more direct examples of assessment strategies, approaches and activities to use, which are not present in this book. There are, however, other titles which offer that and the ideas within this book can be used to help teachers decide which ones may be worth trying and how to take an evidence-based approach to their implementation.

Teacher educators will find this book a valuable resource for guiding developing teachers in their practice in assessment. The questions for enquiry will also be a good starting point for reflective practice and/or professional development sessions focussing on assessment.

Overall, I think this short book is accessible, comprehensive, and has a lot to offer. It is the first in the new Evidence-based Teaching for Enquiring Teachers series from Critical Publishing and I will definitely be adding this one to my module reading list and be looking out for future titles in the series. Cross-posted on Will Haywood’s blog.

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