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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Formative Assessment of Early Learning
Module Code EC321
School 77
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Gillian Lake
Semester 2: Gillian Lake
Autumn: Gillian Lake
Module TeachersGeraldine French
Gillian Lake
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Repeat examination
Assignment as above

A definition of assessment as it applies to early learning is presented and analysed. The principles of assessment of early learning are emphasised. Some important perspectives influencing approaches to formative assessment of early learning are presented, such as inclusive education, reflective practice, professional identity. A range of formative assessment processes as identified in Aistear (NCCA, 2009) are explored. The Aistear guidelines on formative assessment provide the basis for discussion of practice in assessing early learning. A definition and characterisation of formative assessment in early childhood education is developed through reviewing students’ knowledge of early learning and associated theoretical constructs. Students are oriented toward approaches to assessment that are in the best interests of both children and their families and professional relationships with parents are emphasised. The what and how of assessing to support learning is explored and key strategies are analysed. Ways of studying and assessing children’s learning and development in their natural, everyday environments especially in the context of play and interactions with others are exemplified. The application of assessment processes in various areas of learning (e.g. numeracy and literacy) is studied. Advisory guidelines in relation to good practice are critiqued. Digital skills in the context of assessment are highlighted and practised. Students use these as a basis for planning and reflecting on their work in assessing early learning and development.

Learning Outcomes

1. Define assessment as it applies to early learning and to pedagogy for children aged 0-6 years.
2. Identify important principles applying to early learning and assessment, including teacher's professional identity and agency, inclusive approaches.
3. Discuss the ethical considerations that apply to the assessment of early learning, including the use of digital technology for assessment for learning.
4. Describe and evaluate the processes used for assessing early learning and the professional teacher's role in same
5. Review, interpret and reflect on children’s day-to-day activity in early education contexts for the purposes of assessing learning.
6. Critique the Aistear guidelines on formative assessment.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Workshop242-hour workshop
Assignment Completion41Assignment
Independent Study60Reading and evaluation of resources
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Indicative Content
Please note that this indicative content is mediated through engagement in seminars and attendance is recorded. • Aistear: Guidelines for good practice. Supporting learning and development through assessment; • Key ideas in formative assessment in early childhood: Definition, contexts, theoretical constructs (agency and identity, inter-subjectivity, collaboration, co-construction, global citizenship); • What to assess in early learning; • Strategies for assessing early learning: observations; conversations; interviews; analysis of children’s drawings; • Observing children and their learning; • Using frameworks for observation e.g. Schema Theory; Developmental Progressions in mathematics; Developmental Continua (Primary Language Curriculum, NCCA 2016); • Listening to babies, toddlers and young children: Exploring creative ways of listening to individual children and developing awareness of different/preferred modes of communication; • Documentation of early learning e.g., Learning stories, portfolios, visual records; • Ethical assessment in early childhood; • Case studies in assessment of early learning; use of digital technology for assessment for learning

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentOnline discussion: The discussion takes place in the Forum section of the EC321 Loop platform. You should see three separate discussion headings: Observation as a tool for assessment (100 words) Ethical assessment of young children (100 words) Documenting children’s learning (100 words) If you open up the first message in each area, you will find the link to the introductory reading for the topic. For this online discussion you are required to take part in all three of the topics. How do the issues strike you? Have you got evidence to support / contest the arguments that are being presented? Remember, this is an Early Childhood assessment module, so you are particularly looking for20%n/a
AssignmentThematic Review: Select one of the three topics from the Online Discussion and explore how different authors have discussed your developed question in their articles. In doing so you will need to discuss the position each author has on your key question, and the issues that are raised by their discussion / findings. We are asking you to limit the number of papers to four, so having reviewed relevant articles, select the four you feel are most useful to represent the debate.80%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Dylan William: 2017, Embedded Formative Assessment,
  • Sue Wortham: 2019, Assessment in Early Childhood Education,
  • Sandra Smidt: 2015, Observing Young Children,
  • Susan Stacy: 2015, Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood,
  • Clark, A & Moss, P: 2011, Listening to Young Children: The Mosaic Approach, National Children's Bureau, London,
  • Drummond, M. J.: 2012, Assessing Children's Learning,
  • Fiore, L.: 2012, Assessment of young children: A collaborative approach,
Other Resources

60550, publication, NCCA, 2009, Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Guidelines for good practice, 60551, publication, NAEYC, 2003, Early childhood curriculum, assessment and program evaluation. Position statement, http://www.naeyc.org/file/positions/pscape.pdf, 60552, report, Sonali, N., 2017, Assessment of literacy and foundational learning in developing countries: Final Report., https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/593e6e6240f0b63e0b000249/Nag_Final_Report_20170517.pdf,
Programme or List of Programmes
BEDBachelor of Education

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