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Formative Assessment (FA)

Recently researchers have identified how SRL processes and FA practices are intertwined and converging (e.g., Butler et al., 2017; Heritage, 2018; Panadero, Andrade, & Brookhart, 2018). FA involves weaving assessment practices into activities in ways that inform both teaching and learning. In multiple respects, FA practices are optimally designed to support learners’ engagement in deliberate, reflective cycles of strategic action, either on their own or with others. For example, FA involves engaging learners in identifying, interpreting, and working with criteria, so that they have a clear sense of purpose (e.g., Andrade, Du, & Mycek, 2010; Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). Then, building from criteria, learners engage in both self- and peer-assessment, where they have opportunities to judge progress toward criteria, and adapt performance to reduce gaps between progress and goals (see Table 5.1).

Contemporary research on feedback aligns well with FA practices. For example, in their review, Hattie and Timperley (2007) identified three questions that effective forms of feedback should help learners to answer: Where am I (are we) going? (establishing purpose); How am I (are we) doing? (self-assessing); and Where to Next? (adjusting).

These questions align with a call to support learners’ flexible and adaptive engagement in cycles of strategic action. To more fully support socially shared strategic processing, Figure 5.1 adds two additional questions. When collaborating, learners also have to negotiate how they will work together toward goals, both when planning (“What do we need to get there?”) and when selecting, adapting, or inventing strategies for getting there (“What are we doing (and why)?”). SRL-promoting practices, FA, and productive feedback can combine to nurture socially shared strategic processing, and at the same time foster agency, metacognition, and deeper forms of collaborative learning.

Supporting Socially Shared Strategic Processing in Collaborative Learning Frameworks

In the previous section we distilled pedagogical principles and practices from the literatures on SEL, SRL, and FA. In this section, we consider how those principles and practices are being, or could be, implemented to support strategic processing in the context of some of the most actively researched collaborative learning frameworks.

Supporting Socially Shared Strategic Processing within Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning (CL) is a pedagogical framework that has been researched since the 1970s (Gillies, 2016; Johnson & Johnson, 2009). Research has consistently shown benefits of CL for learning, peer relationships, and motivation (Gillies, 2016). Johnson and Johnson (2009) identified five conditions that support effective collaboration during CL. The first is to structure positive interdependence into activities, so that learners feel that success depends on them all contributing to a common goal. This condition aligns well with calls in both the SEL and SRL literatures to build communities of learning in which students feel like they are “in it together” (Perry et al., in press). The second condition for effective CL is to foster promotive interaction, or the willingness of group members to support each other to achieve shared goals. This condition is well aligned with recommendations from the SEL and SRL literatures to support prosocial values (e.g., Hymel et al., 2014) and socially responsible self-regulation (Hutchinson, 2013). The third condition necessary for successful CL is individual accountability, where learners feel responsible for their particular role in achieving a collective goal. This condition is consistent with descriptions of collaboration as involving dynamic coordination between self-, co-, and socially shared forms of regulation (Hadwin et al., 2010). That said, it adds an important focus on ensuring that individuals perceive themselves as having personal accountability within collaborative work. The fourth condition for effective CL is that students know how to participate together. This fourth condition aligns directly with the many calls across the literature to provide explicit support for students to build capacities for collaboration. The final condition necessary for productive CL is effective forms of group processing. Aligned with the SRL and FA literatures, CL research suggests that, to work together effectively, groups need to learn ho w to negotiate their engagement as members of a group through cycles of strategic action.

Many researchers have identified ways to support effective forms of CL. For example, Farivar and Webb (1994) argued that group work is most effective when “students are prepared in stages, and when group skills have been taught and practiced” (p. 51). Their four stages of support for cooperative learning include (1) community building; (2) developing skills for working with others in small groups; 3) developing communication and cooperation skills; and (4) developing helping skills. We interpret these suggestions as calls to surface the kinds of strategic processing required to navigate social dimensions of learning. As part of her review of research on CL, Gillies (2016) advocated for engaging students in dialogic exchanges in which peers probe and clarify each others thinking, identify and confront discrepancies, provide suggestions, and encourage each other. By integrating supports for productive academic discourse into activities, learners can be supported to take up those ways of thinking on their own. We interpret these suggestions as focusing more on the cognitive dimensions of learning collaboratively with others. Similarly, Jurkowski and Hanze (2015) developed a model for teaching students explicitly how to engage in “transactive communication” (TC) (p. 358). To that end, they provided explanations about TC to university-level students, showed videos with positive and negative examples, provided opportunities for students to identify TC within those examples, engaged students in practice with feedback, and asked students to complete a learning journal to describe TC in their interactions. They found that students who received TC instruction outperformed peers in both TC and knowledge acquisition. Jurkowski and Hanze’s (2015) study illustrated how explicit support for collaboration can be woven into activities to support both collaborative learning processes and knowledge construction.

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