Measuring Progress VS Learning- lessons from the school classroom.

Reading about the Wonkfest earlier this week reminded me of the constant search for methods to “measure” “learning”.

Robert Bjork says that learning and performance are distinct.  Performance is measurable but learning must be inferred from performance. Performance is easily observable whereas learning is not.

Frequently, learning occurs but short term performance doesn’t, and visa versa!

According to Dylan Wiliam learning is: “a liminal process, at the boundary between control and chaos”*.  But present performance is not a reliable indicator of learning. A student might appear to be making rapid progress without any real learning occurring.


So these are some of the problems, but what can we do about it?

Robert Bjork provides some good advice:

“When you introduce things like variability, spacing, reducing the feedback, interleaving things to be learned rather than blocking the things to be learned; that appears to slow down the learning process and poses challenges but enhances long term retention and transfer.”


For more food for thought watch this video from Darren Mead:

It is about school classrooms, but much of it is transferable to HE.


Any suggestions on excellent ways to embed pedagogy that promotes learning rather than progress will be very gratefully received.


Find out more about Dylan Williams here:


And robert Bjork here:


Leave a Reply

Your details
  • (Your email address will not be published in your comment)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>