What is Assessment for Learning (AfL)?

Assessment for learning (AFL) is an approach to teaching and learning that creates feedback for the trainee which is then used to improve their performance. 

Using feedback to promote progress

Feedback is a core component of formative assessment and central to learning. It informs the trainee of progress or lack thereof. In John Hattie’s seminal work on educational effectiveness, Visible Learning for Teachers (2011), Hattie ranked feedback strategies 10th out of 150 factors that bring about significant improvements in learner outcomes.

To support a trainee via valuable feedback, your training officer could:

  • Give an insight into observed learning needs and the resources available to facilitate and support your learning.
  • Promote motivation and engagement in appropriate learning activities.
  • Use questioning to identify what level a trainee is working at, provide feedback on what their next steps should be to improve their learning. Training Officers can model what successful work looks like and encourage trainees to work with peers to learn from one another too.
  • Confirm your proficiency and knowledge regarding a technique detailing what they need to do to improve their performance of the technique.
  • Give detailed, effective feedback.
  • Give task-focused feedback – rather than something like ‘That’s great’.
  • Detailed feedback can help to understand what is needed to do next to succeed.
  • Use minutes of one-to-one review meetings as evidence of ongoing feedback and progress.
  • Question you about working through an error. For example: How might it be caused or discovered? What should be done when it is discovered? How should it be reported? How might this affect the patient?
  • Observe you setting up a machine or test.
  • Ask you to annotate a health and safety map showing hazards within the lab, identifying what the lab has in place to minimise risks and how this affects the way in which the healthcare scientists work.