A Pair of Webinars Spark Interest in Teacher-Led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment

published 3 October 2023 updated 21 November 2023

Education International (EI) held two webinars on the 5th of September 2023 and the 3rd of October 2023 in the framework of the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment (T3LFA) project. The two webinars explored the project's impact on teachers, students, schools, and communities worldwide.

The T3LFA project aims to provide teachers with tools and support to identify and establish effective teacher-led formative assessment practices that can be disseminated within and across education unions.

The project began in the wake of global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, where the international community returned to privileging summative assessment. Education International recognised that in this context, it was necessary to provide professional development to support teachers' leadership and expert use of formative assessment. This would help identify students' learning needs and provide feedback to improve their progress. With support from the Jacobs Foundation, the project began in 2022, and is being implemented in Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Malaysia, South Korea, Switzerland, and Uruguay.

The two-part webinar series was an important opportunity to give teachers, facilitators, researchers and union partners in the project's seven countries a space to share their experiences with a global audience. It also provided the project's international researchers and facilitators with the ability to explain the tools and theoretical frameworks that have guided the facilitators and teachers through their first teacher-led learning circle cycle.

The first webinar entitled "Formative Assessment Practices Around the World: What works and what doesn't?" was held on the 5th of September and began with an introduction by the project's international research team. Professor Carol Campbell, Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and Dr Danielle LaPointe-McEwan, Adjunct Professor at Queen's University, outlined the contents of the literature review and research framework that provides the basis for the project as well as clarified what is next for the project's international research team.

The webinar was then moderated by Danielle, who moved the conversation between Dr Claude Koutou, the project's national researcher in Cote d'Ivoire and Professor at the Universite Felix Houpheouet Boigny and Ana Maria Clementino, Learning Circle Facilitator in Brazil and Researcher at the Federal University of Minas Gerais as well as two of the project's union partners Gabriela Arbeleche, Acting General Secretary of the Federacion Uruguaya de Magisterio Trabajadores de Education Primaria (FUM-TEP) and Hyunsu Hwang, International President of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU).

The first webinar's panelists gave important insights that highlighted the:

  • Global readiness for formative assessment and collaborative teacher professional learning on the topic of formative assessment;
  • Positive impacts of formative assessment on both students and teachers, with learning being enhanced through developing stronger student-teacher relationships;
  • Spread of formative assessment through teacher leadership within and beyond the project;
  • Adaptation of the Learning Circles model in response to diverse country, school and classroom contexts as well as participants' needs, access to technology, and political conditions;
  • Importance of collaboratively navigating challenges to support participants' engagement in the project and the implementation of promising formative assessment practices.

The second webinar, entitled "Teacher-leadership for Formative Assessment Around the World: What works and what doesn't?" took place a month later, on the 3rd of October, and built on the insights of the first. The webinar began with Julie Roberts, former secondary school teacher and school principal introducing her fellow co-director of HertsCam and Emeritus Fellow at Wolfson College Cambridge, Dr David Frost who clarified how the T3LFA project empowers and enables teachers to be agents of change in their schools, communities, and wider society.

The focus of the webinar then moved to the teachers involved in the teacher-led learning circles themselves, with Selina Brunner, teacher and learning circle participant in St Gallen, Switzerland, describing how her promising formative assessment practices have positively impacted students. Selina then moved the webinar into a panel discussion among Viknesh Nair a/I Devaharan, teacher and learning circle participant in Penang, Malaysia, Ruth Annan Sly, teacher and learning circle participant in Cape Coast, Ghana, and Hyunok Oh, teacher and learning circle participant in Jeonbuk, South Korea.

During the second webinar, the teacher panelists outlined:

  • How they developed formative assessment strategies such as think-pair-share, peer assessment, questioning, classroom discussion, exit slips and quizzes to more actively involve learners in their classrooms;
  • How formative assessment transforms students into active learners who have meaningful learning experiences;
  • How the project has given teachers the ability to influence, guide and support colleagues and the broader educational community to improve teaching and learning practices;
  • The challenges that teachers face in getting colleagues to adopt formative assessment due to the novelty of the practice in particular contexts.

Overall, the webinar series highlighted that teachers must continue to be supported by unions and governments to participate in continuous progressional learning and development programmes to provide inclusive quality public education for all.

Interested in keeping up to date with the project and finding out more about the progression of the project in our seven project countries? Listen to our podcast and follow our project page here.