Transcending conventional assessment boundaries in conducting learning study: A case in Hong Kong

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Purpose: Assessment for learning (AfL) or formative assessment is an idea widely embraced by the education field; however, it is recognised as difficult to practice at classroom. This paper, with a case study, explores how an action research activity, learning study, helps a group of teachers in Hong Kong transcend some assessment boundaries and develop assessment tools that are more conducive for student's learning. As guided by variation theory, a distinctive feature of learning study is its intensive use of formative assessment tools, including pre- and post-tests and interviews with students, to provide feedback to teaching and evidence of learning. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how teachers learn to use the formative assessment tools to overcome practical problems in teaching and improve their instruction.
Design/methodology/approach: A case study was conducted. Data collected included field notes on classroom observations, records of meetings, students' interviews and students' writings in both pre- and post-tests. The general framework for qualitative data analysis by Miles and Huberman (1994) guided the data analysis process with the foci on the change in teachers' perceptions and improvement of their skills in adopting formative assessment tools.
Findings: Although the initial aim of conducting learning study was examination-driven, i.e., to improve the students' performance in an external examination, it became evident over time that teachers participating in the inquiry process had gained a better understanding of making use of the assessment results as feedback to improve student learning and their instruction. This constituted an ideal case for studying the learning process of the teachers as they practiced AfL and transcend some conventional assessment boundaries in an authentic classroom situation.
Originality/value: This is one of the scarce studies, which demonstrates how the assessment elements of learning study, i.e. pre/post tests and student interviews, can be integrated into the working practice of teachers as a form of AfL and become an integral aspect of classroom practice. Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-228
JournalInternational Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies
Issue number3
Early online dateApr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Ko, P. Y. (2019). Transcending conventional assessment boundaries in conducting learning study: A case in Hong Kong. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 8(3), 212-228. doi: 10.1108/IJLLS-10-2018-0078


  • Hong Kong
  • Learning study
  • Variation theory
  • Formative assessment


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