Seven practices for effective learning

by Jay McTighe and Ken O’Connor


McTighe and O’Connor have summarised key assessment practices that improve both teaching and learning. They provide descriptions and examples of diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment.

The emphasis is on using assessment to inform the teacher, to personalise instruction to meet specific learning needs of individual students, and to provide effective feedback to students on their progress.

For each kind of assessment described, the authors provide a classroom-based example. Teachers can compare their own practices with these examples and check to see that they are providing a range of assessment practices geared to meet the needs of their students.

This is a very accessible introduction to and/or reminder of effective assessment practices. It touches briefly on engaging students with assessment processes, for example, encouraging goal setting and self-assessment, which could be explored further through the references listed below.

The article would be useful as a checklist for staff to ensure that they employ a range of appropriate assessment practices to improve learning.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • How do your staff and students show ‘how well’ learning has taken place during a unit of work? (Look at Practice 7 in the article.)
  • McTighe and O’Connor mention some of the problems with poorly designed assessment practices. What are some of the concerns that your staff have with the current assessment practices they use? Discuss ways in which these concerns and others from your context can be addressed.
  • How can students be more actively and reflectively engaged in assessment practices, so that their opportunities to learn are enhanced?

Further reading

Lingard, R., Mills, M., & Hayes, D. (2006). Enabling and aligning assessment for learning: Some research and policy lessons from Queensland. International Studies in the Sociology of Education (0962–0214), 16(2).

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed.). Assn/Supervision and Curriculum Devt.


McTighe, J., & O’Connor, K. (2005). Seven practices for effective learning. Educational Leadership, 63(3), 10–17.

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