As a direct consequence of inclusion legislation and policy, teachers are expected to raise standards of learning in the classroom whilst addressing a wide and complex range of needs. Formative assessment, as defined and prescribed by Black & Wiliam (1998), is the process by which teachers are currently expected to approach this. Simply put, formative assessment entails careful monitoring of children’s responses to learning, and the use of feedback, on an ongoing, iterative basis, to adapt teaching to meet pupil needs.
This study will explore formative assessment with a particular focus on learners on the autism spectrum in primary and/or secondary schools. A range of qualitative methods will be used to undertake close observation of teachers and learners with autism in the classroom in order to identify, and critically analyse, the range of strategies and activities used by teachers to gain insights into autistic childrens’ learning. The aim of the study will be to map the challenges and barriers that teachers and learners face during the formative assessment process in different contexts, and draw on relevant literature and research to make sense how autism, inclusion and formative assessment intersect. A key question will be whether, and how, formative assessment, when applied to children with autism, enables teachers to raise standards of learning.
Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit.