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What is Point of Learning (PoL) – moving beyond standardised testing

PoL book coverPoint of Learning (PoL) is both a reflective learning tool and a means of collecting evidence about performance against agreed targets.

PoL is an alternative approach to assessment that should make it possible to capture evidence about aspects of learning which traditional forms of assessment (e.g. exams) cannot capture. PoL uses mobile devices to make it quick and easy to capture evidence in a much less intrusive and more practical way than traditional portfolios.

Overview PoL

Granules are aspirational targets that the users of the system have agreed should be their main focus over the coming period.

The users of the system discuss 'what you would see' (practices) if the associated granule had been achieved. These practices are exemplars to illustrate how you would know that a granule had been achieved.

The process of identifying these practices helps to ensure that the group have a shared understanding of what they would have to do to achieve the granules. It also helps to make explicit what might other wise be tacit knowledge by getting users to talk about what they do that relates to the granules.

Once the granules and associated practices have been agreed the users then use software called Lengo to make claims about the granules that have been achieved. There are three different levels of claim:

  • self claims that the learner makes about herself
  • peer claims that a peer of the learner's makes about the learner
  • assessor claims that are made by an assessor

3 levels of claimOne would expect there to be more self than peer than assessor claims.

Claims are made of an agreed period of time, such as three months or a school term.

Users can review their own and other group members' claims using the web version of Lengo.

At the end of the agreed period of time over which they have been making claims the users have a review meeting to discuss their progress. This involves discussing the claims that have been made, and may lead to a change in the granules that are being focussed on and/or the practices associated with each granule.

Comparing PoL with other forms of assessment

Traditional 'terminal' assessment is not able to capture evidence about many aspects of learning that are important - particularly where these relate to processes rather than academic outcomes.

PoL is based on the premise that if you have a range of individuals (self, several peers, an assessor) making claims that they have observed the learner achieving the granules over a period of several months then that is more compelling than other forms of assessment such as a terminal exam or assessment of a portfolio (as illustrated in the figure below).

PoL compared with exams and portfoliosBy using the software to make claims the system repeatedly reminds the learners what aspects of their practice they are trying to enhance. It acts as a reflective tool.

Where has PoL been used?

Imagine Education have successfully used PoL with teachers in Egypt as a professional development tool.

I (along with a range of collaborators) am currently piloted PoL with:

  • home educators who are focussed on the attributes and dispositions that they wish their children to develop
  • staff in early years settings (e.g. a day nursery) who wish to enhance their professional practice
  • sports science undergraduates with a focus on the extent to which they are being scientists

Work is also underway on developing a framework of 21st century attributes for use with secondary school students.  The ambition is that by providing practical and credible ways of assessing things which cannot be captured by traditional forms of assessment PoL will help to bring about changes in what schools focus on - it will help extend the focus so that it not only includes the things that have traditionally been easy to test but also the things which are recognised as being important in the world today (such as collaboration, real problem solving, communication, creativity and learning to learn).

Further info & acknowledgements

A paper setting out the theoretical justification for PoL as well as an explanation of its different elements is available to download from Research Gate.

PoL was originally conceived of by Jim Wynn at Imagine Education. Imagine Education have created Lengo.  I am grateful to Imagine Education for supporting my investigations of PoL's use in different contexts.


1 thought on “What is Point of Learning (PoL) – moving beyond standardised testing

  1. jim wynn

    The crucial thing about Point of Sale (PoS) systems is that the data capture elements do not get in the way of the transaction. But data is captured to help both the retailer and the shopper. So with Point of Learning systems the claiming and recording of credits should not get in the way of the learning. Just like in retail the fact that data is captured means conversations can happen. Shifting one off summative tests to PoL systems not only provides a way to make learning deeper it has to be the only way to encourage learners to recognise and discuss their learning.


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