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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Elliott, J.G., Resing, W.C.M. & Beckmann, J.F. (2018). Dynamic assessment: a case of unfulfilled potential? Educational Review 70(1): 7-17.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper updates a review of dynamic assessment in education by the first author, published in this journal in 2003. It notes that the original review failed to examine the important conceptual distinction between dynamic testing (DT) and dynamic assessment (DA). While both approaches seek to link assessment and intervention, the former is of particular interest for academic researchers in psychology, whose focus is upon the study of reasoning and problem-solving. In contrast, those working in the area of dynamic assessment, often having a practitioner orientation, tend to be particularly concerned to explore the ways by which assessment data can inform educational practice. It is argued that while some authors have considered the potential value of DA in assisting classification, or in predicting future performance, the primary contribution of this approach would seem to be in guiding intervention. Underpinning this is the view that DA can shed light on the operation of underlying cognitive processes that are impairing learning. However, recent research has demonstrated that the belief that deficient cognitive/executive functions could be identified and ameliorated, and subsequently result in academic progress, has not been supported. Where gains in such processes/functions have sometimes been found in laboratory training studies, these have tended not to transfer meaningfully to classroom contexts. The review concludes by pointing out that DA continues to be supported primarily on the basis of case studies and notes that the 2003 call for research that systematically examines the relationship between assessment and intervention has yet to be realised.

School of Education