Assessment Techniques and Students’ Ownership: Differences in Formative Assessment Practices between The Netherlands and Flanders

Jitske de Vries, Roos Van Gasse, Marieke van Geel, Peter Van Petegem, Adrie Visscher

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives: It is widely acknowledged that assessment for learning (AfL) can be a way to improve learning in the classroom (e.g., Black, & Wiliam, 1998). However, the success of AfL relies heavily on using high quality data to inform instructional decisions, by both teachers as well as their students. Although the importance of using various, complementary assessment techniques has been stressed, insights into the ways in which teachers collect data and involve their students in instructional decisions are scarce.

Research questions: The current study was performed in secondary education in the Netherlands as well as in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium; Flanders. The research questions are:

• Which assessment techniques do teachers (NL/FL) use to collect assessment data, and how often do they use various techniques?

• To what extent do teachers (NL/FL) integrate student ownership in assessment practices?

Theoretical framework: Data collection in the classroom include (a) the use of assessment techniques, and (b) distribution of ownership in the assessment process. Teachers can have stronger evidence on students’ learning progress and can make better formative or summative decisions when multiple assessment techniques, such as oral, written and performance assessment, complement each other (Bennett, 2011). In addition, for more ownership of students in their own learning process, it is important that the students also play a role the assessment of their own and their peers’ work (William, 2011).

Methods and Data Sources: In total, 203 secondary school mathematics teachers from the Netherlands and Flanders completed a questionnaire about the frequency with which they apply each of various assessment techniques and how often various agents (teacher, student, peers) are responsible for assessment in their classroom.
We used hierarchical cluster analyses using Ward’s method to examine patterns in (1) teachers’ use of different assessment techniques and (2) assessment agency.
Next, we explored the relation between these clusters in a crosstab analysis. Furthermore, we explored the relation between educational context and clusters.

Results: Five clusters for teachers’ use of assessment techniques were identified, ranging from frequent use of (merely only) written assessment, to regular use of a variation of assessment techniques – which we consider to be more formative. Teachers in Flanders predominantly use the traditional assessment techniques, which are paper-and-pencil tests, where teachers in The Netherlands are more dispersed across the clusters; they reported to vary their assessment techniques to a larger extent.
With regard to assessment agency, four clusters were identified. Teachers from Flanders indicate a more teacher-centred approach, whereas teachers from the Netherlands show more dispersion of agency and students and peers also take the role of assessor in the classroom.
Finally, crosstab analysis shows a significant relationship between the clusters of assessment techniques and assessment agency. More varied the assessment techniques are related to less teacher-centred assessment.

Scholarly significance and link to conference theme: With this study, insights are provided in the empirical relation between assessment techniques and assessment ownership. Furthermore, differences between contexts are identified.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event34th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, ICSEI 2021: Crossing Boundaries and Building Bridges - online , Auckland, New Zealand
Duration: 8 Mar 202118 Mar 2021
Conference number: 34


Conference34th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, ICSEI 2021
Abbreviated titleICSEI 2021
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
Internet address

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