Dynamic Assessment

Fraser Lauchlan

Improving Learning Through Dynamic Assessment (2013)

Authors: Fraser Lauchlan and Donna Carrigan

My expertise in dynamic assessment dates back to 1995 when I was first trained in the approach as a doctoral research student.  During my doctoral studies, supervised by Professor Julian Elliott, I visited Israel on a six-week long fieldwork placement which was funded by a Wyndham-Deedes Scholarship award from the Anglo-Israel Association.

During the visit I was able to work closely with two eminent figures who have promoted the dynamic assessment approach: Professor David Tzuriel and Professor Reuven Feuerstein, and from whom I continued my education and training in this innovative approach.

From that time in the mid-1990s until the present day I have been involved in extensive research and practice as a professional educational psychologist, including the publication of over 20 research papers and conference presentations, culminating in the publication of a resource textbook on the approach entitled “Improving Learning Through Dynamic Assessment”, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2013, and co-written with my colleague Donna Carrigan.

In 2021, with my co-director Dr Clare Daly, we launched Dynamic Assessment UK (www.dynamicassessmentuk.com), which is the first of its kind. A ‘one stop shop’ for all things related to dynamic assessment, where practitioners are able to network with each other to share resources and practice, and where they can advance their skills in this innovative approach under expert supervision. All training and certification have been approved by the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Professional Development Centre. Practitioners are now able to work towards being a fully approved DA practitioner. This is an exciting development and one in which we passionately believe can lead to improved delivery of DA practice by educational psychologists and related professionals. Click here to be directed to the Dynamic Assessment UK website for more details.

Blog on how the book came about
Free on-line resources that accompany the book
Academic reviews

Amazon Customer Reviews

As an experienced EP I have been looking for something other than the same old IQ tests. Although I have dynamic assessment materials and used them, I felt that my recommendations were a bit woolly and vague. Not any longer. This book gives really good practical suggestions and has lots of photocopiable resources and ideas for areas which need work. Essential part of an Eps toolkit!

Ms Sm CresswellAmazon Review

Excellent resource for Educational Psychologists! I am a first year trainee EP and this book has been incredibly valuable in supporting my understanding of dynamic assessment. It contains lots of great resources to use with children and advice on how to communicate your findings to school staff and develop classroom strategies. Many thanks, Jerricah

Jerricah HolderAmazon Review

As a trainee Educational Psychologist nearing the end of my first year, I would certainly recommend this book for anybody looking to incorporate dynamic assessment into their work. It provides an accessible introduction to the process, along with practical guidance and useful resources. The book provides a hugely valuable contribution to a complex, powerful and important avenue of EP practice

BenAmazon Review

Lauchlan's book was desperately needed. As anybody interested in dynamic assessment can attest, there are not a lot of materials out there for incorporating it into practice. This is the first thing I have read that moves DA from the realm of research into the realm of practice

Joe RussellAmazon Review

Explanation of Graphic Communication Symbols

I am sometimes asked during training to explain some of the graphics that are used to represent the Learning Principles (see pages 89-95 of Improving Learning Through Dynamic Assessment.

Please note that these are available in a larger format (PDF file) on the JKP website. The symbols were derived from a ‘brainstorming’ session with colleagues based in South Lanarkshire Council’s Psychological Service.

Feel free to come up with your own ideas (some of ours could be considered ‘culturally specific’).

Cognitive Learning Principles (14 in total)

icon-phone

I communicate my answers in a clear way
Symbol: a telephone (communication)

icon-search

I search for answers to problems
Symbol: a Sherleck Holmes style magnifying glass (searching for clues)

icon-judge

I can explain how I got my answers
Symbol: a judge (having to justify yourself)

icon-buttons

I choose my answers carefully
Symbol: two buttons (threading buttons has to be done carefully and with precision)

icon-question

I can understand what I am being asked to do in tasks
Symbol: a question mark (you should ask a question if you do not understand what to do)

icon-clocks

I can explain how I got my answers
Symbol: a judge (having to justify yourself)

icon-coach

I can use what I have learned to help me with other tasks
Symbol: a bus (indicates the ‘transportation’ of what you have learned from one task to another)

icon-scales

I can spot when things are the same and different
Symbol: a set of scales (where we can see if things weigh the same or not)

icon-clock

I work without rushing or taking too long
Symbol: a stopwatch (timing how long one takes)

icon-elephant

I can remember information that will help me solve tasks
Symbol: an elephant (elephants have good memories)

icon-map

I plan how I will solve a problem
Symbol: A map (needed when you are planning a trip)

icon-sums

I notice when my answers are not correct
Symbol: 2 + 2 = 6 (clearly an incorrect sum)

icon-hands

I can understand positions and know my left and right
Symbol: two hands, one pointing to the left and one pointing to the right

icon-book

I use the correct words when naming information
Symbol: a dictionary (indicating a good and appropriate vocabulary)

Affective Learning Principles (10 in total)

I ask for help when I need it
Symbol: a pupil sitting at her desk with her hand in raised (indicating someone asking for help)

icon-exclamation

I can stay interested in a task
Symbol: an exclamation mark! (indicating being awake and alert)

icon-books

I can change the way I try to solve a problem
Symbol: a pupil carrying armfuls of books (indicating the many ways that one could try to solve a problem, by reading several different books on different approaches)

icon-carrot

I want to do well in school tasks
Symbol: A carrot (indicating motivation. the carrot and stick approach where one receives rewards for doing something well)

icon-spider

I keep going with my work even if it’s difficult
Symbol: a spider (indicating perseverance. It refers to the legend of Robert the Bruce who was in cave and watched a spider trying over and over until it succeeded in weaving a web. Legend has it that this motivated him to keep trying until he defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314)

icon-arrows

I can keep my mind on my work and not be put off
Symbol: a pupil looking focused and with three arrows pointing towards his head (indicating keeping ‘on task’)

icon-lion

I stick to my answers when challenged
Symbol: a lion (indicating being courageous in ‘sticking to your guns’, even if someone is challenging you)

icon-legs

I give my work a try even if it looks difficult
Symbol: a pupil bending over and looking backwards between his legs (indicating a perspective that could be considered as doing something that is difficult)

icon-chair

I feel relaxed and comfortable
Symbol: an armchair (where one is sitting comfortably)

icon-pile

I am awake and ready to learn
Symbol. An alarm clock on top of a pile of books (getting up early and getting ready to learn)