This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Associative perspective on Assessment & Feedback in Mathematics

In my past as a Maths teacher/ lecturer my perspective of assessment was largely associative. (see image below) Learners practice skills in order to acquire the knowledge and skills and later the understanding necessary to progress. The learners are assessed on their ability to perform the skills and apply the knowledge and understanding. Feedback is given on the accuracy of answers, the appropriateness of the application of skills and knowledge. Understanding of concepts is largely assessed through the correct application of skills and knowledge.

I have been a maths ‘teacher’ for some time and would like to think that if I returned to maths education I could and would change my perspective. However, my daughter is now a secondary school maths teacher and through conversation with her I understand that little has changed in the formal assessment of maths in schools. In fact I think that moves away from the associative perspective have been reversed with the removal of coursework elements from the assessment process. On the positive side there seems to be more of an emphasis on self assessment than in the past. My involvement with university level maths leads me to believe that the assessment perspective is largely associative. I have recently been supporting a couple of students studying for 3rd year (out of 4) maths exams and their revision is centred on past papers in honing their skills in following the correct procedures to calculate line integrals etc. This assessment doesn’t assess how mathematical they have become – but how well they can memorise the procedures!


Accessed from

I am a learning technology advisor at the University of Strathclyde where i deal with day to day support issues for the use of our Moodle based VLE as well as advising more widely on online learning in general.

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