Unleashing the potential of assessment for learning

David Robert CARLESS

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Assessment by means of assignments, tests and examinations has a major impact on teaching and learning. The influence may be positive, benign or negative, but when it is the latter the impact is often to distort the curriculum and exert harmful stress or demotivation on students (and sometimes teachers). This paper argues for an alternative perspective by which assessment is focused less on the measurement aspects and more on the promotion of student learning, in other words, the formative aspects of assessment are emphasized. Drawing on work in a number of different countries, I will review a body of literature which reveals the enormous, yet largely untapped, potential of assessment for learning. Issues will be related to relevant current reform initiatives in Hong Kong, including self-assessment, peer-assessment, strategies for giving effective feedback and a refocusing of marking practices. Examples of innovative practices in schools and teacher education will be used as illustrations. Challenges to be faced will be addressed. The paper will conclude with some recommendations as to how assessment for learning might be implemented in Hong Kong school contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


Carless, D. (2002, May). Unleashing the potential of assessment for learning. Paper presented at the Symposium supported by the Council of the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust: Learning from the Past, Informing the Future: Education Then, Now and Tomorrow, Hong Kong Baptist University, China.


  • Theory and Practice of Teaching and Learning


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