Fostering self-learning: Learning Circle Project develops formative assessment practices for student self-evaluation in South Korea

published 20 February 2024 updated 2 May 2024

The beginning of 2024 marked the end of the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment (T3LFA) project cycle for 28 primary school teachers in South Korea. From Jeju to Jeonbuk, teachers in South Korea developed their leadership skills through the 11-month professional learning and development (PLD) programme to identify and establish promising formative assessment practices in their classrooms.

The project has taken a unique form in South Korea, as learning circles are not new to teachers. Professional learning communities already exist and are well supported by regional authorities. The challenge instead lies in having the autonomy to develop and use promising formative assessment practice that enables students to meet the rigorous demands of summative assessment. The promising formative assessment practices, once identified, should also not create an additional reporting burden for teachers but be based on trusting teachers to respond and react to students' needs.

One teacher from Jeonbuk outlined how they developed their student's self-direction through self-evaluation, building the students capacity as an engaged learner. The elementary school teacher explained how using self-assessment strategies such as providing an analytical rubric with a simple check list positively changed student’s attitudes towards self-learning and facilitated reflections on the effectiveness of teaching. The teacher then used their Learning Circle to speak freely about the impacts of their classes and evaluation methods: the PLD programme gave them unprecedented time to reflect on the impact of their leadership project on students in their classroom.

Nowhere was the effectiveness of the programme on giving teachers the freedom to develop promising formative assessment practice made clearer than during the Asia-Pacific Cross Regional Learning Event held in Seoul on the 4 and 5 November 2023. During the event, project teachers from both South Korea and Malaysia had the opportunity to share promising practice developed through their leadership projects and plan how they would continue to use project learnings to fight for professional autonomy.

The success of the project for the primary school teachers involved and the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) clearly shows that more space needs to be given in South Korea for PLD opportunities that trusts teachers by recognising their professional position as leaders. Through giving teachers the opportunity to use their autonomy to identify and implement formative assessment practices, learning variability in classrooms can be addressed to create inclusive quality public education systems that supports teachers and students alike.

Want to see photos from and read more about the project in South Korea or keep up to date with the project’s next phase? Visit the T3LFA project page on the EI website.