Feedback to children on their learning and development should enhance their sense of themselves as capable people and competent learners.

Te Whāriki, page 30

Sociocultural approaches to assessment:

  • include the children’s viewpoint when possible;
  • take account of the powerful influence of assessments on children’s sense of themselves as learners;
  • ensure that assessments of children’s learning within a Māori context are situated within a Māori pedagogical framework;
  • recognise that assessment is one of the features of a learning community: it influences the quality of children’s engagement in learning.

Caroline Gipps (2002) cites research that supports sociocultural perspectives on assessment in schools (perspectives that are equally applicable to early childhood settings). She writes that, from a sociocultural perspective, “assessment becomes a more collaborative enterprise, in which the pupil has some input” (page 77). She also states that assessment plays a key role in identity formation. “The language of assessment and evaluation is one of the routes by which the identity of young persons is formed …” (page 80).

Research by Simone Shivan in a mainstream ECE centre in Waikato concluded that the empowerment of Māori families was associated with legitimation in the ECE centre of Māori knowledge, values, and language in ways that contributed positively to the children’s sense of identity. She argues that empowerment is therefore much more complex than simply enabling parents to have a “voice”. It involves an effective and sustaining partnership that is culturally and contextually specific (Biddulph et al., 2003, page 151).

Carole Ames (1992) describes the influence of assessment on the quality of children’s engagement in learning:

The ways in which students are evaluated [that is, assessed] is one of the most salient classroom factors that can affect student motivation … Students’ perceptions of their ability appear to be especially responsive to social comparison information … Many students not only come to believe that they lack ability but this perception becomes shared among peers. This external evaluative pressure and emphasis on social comparison also appears to have negative consequences for children’s interest, their pursuit of challenging tasks and their use of learning strategies … The learning strategies that are jeopardised are effort-based strategies that require deeper levels of information processing.

pages 264–265

Last updated: 8 April 2010