Dialogic feedback as divergent assessment for learning: an ecological approach to teacher professional development

Jennifer Charteris
  • Critical Studies in Education, August 2015, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/17508487.2015.1057605

Dialogic feedback as divergent assessment for learning

What is it about?

Neoliberal policy objectives perpetuate an audit culture at both school and system levels. The associated focus on performativity and accountability can result in reductive and procedural interpretations of classroom assessment for learning (AfL) practices. Set in a New Zealand AfL professional development context, this research takes an ecological view of teacher learning as a ground-up approach to improving practice. As a framework, this paper brings together an intersubjective conception of professional learning that positions teachers as co-leaders, principles inherent in ‘the spirit of AfL’, and the notion of ‘intelligent accountability’ to illustrate evidence-informed teacher agency. It applies divergent and dialogic AfL practices to professional learning that can enable teachers to connect with issues that are most relevant to their practice. Dialogic feedback practices of this nature position teachers as capable, reflexive and resourceful practitioners and decision-makers.

Why is it important?

This paper illustrates just one of the many facets of ‘intelligent accountability’ – dialogic feedback as a divergent assessment practice that is relevant to teacher professional learning. Through adopting practices that demonstrate intelligent accountability, teachers can act both agentically and divergently to engage with a range of evidence and make informed pedagogical decisions to meet the specific learning needs of their students.


Dr Jennifer Charteris
University of New England

Providing an account of teacher agency during a professional learning feedback encounter, the author frames AfL as divergent and dialogic teacher-led practice that can enhance learning. AfL is the term preferred over formative assessment in the research context discussed in this paper.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Jennifer Charteris