Road Maps for Learning: A guide to the Navigation of Learning Progressions

Paul Black, Mark Wilson, Shih-Ying Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


The overall aim of this article is to analyze the relationships between the roles of assessment in pedagogy, the interactions between curriculum assessment and pedagogy, and the study of pupils' progression in learning. It is argued that well-grounded evidence of pupils' progressions in learning is crucial to the work of teachers, so that a method is needed which will enable the production of such evidence in relation to the learning strategy of any teacher. The argument starts by proposing a rationale for understanding the central roles of assessments in pedagogy and in particular the relationships between their use for formative and summative purposes. This is then related to a more general discussion of the links between curriculum, assessment and pedagogy which serves to highlight the importance of models of progression. The next step is to consider how assessment evidence of pupils' learning can be analyzed in two ways: By ordering the respondents in terms of overall scores, and by ordering individual items in terms of their difficulty. A method of relating these two in the BEAR assessment system is then explained. This method is then illustrated by a general review of the literature on the study of the atomic-molecular model, leading to detailed consideration of progression in the understanding of melting and evaporation. Results obtained, from a test of eleven items about these two topics, attempted by 665 grade 8 pupils in 11 schools in San Francisco, are then used to illustrate the method of analysis and the nature of the results that it can produce. A final section considers the educational and assessment issues about learning progressions, pedagogy and assessment that we see as being informed by the ideas and practices outlined in the article.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbern/a
Pages (from-to)71-123
Number of pages53
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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