Making assessment ‘flow’

Building on the ideas of Gammon and Lawrence (2006) I have decided to write this blog post to help reduce student anxiety and support future assessment activities. I am not sure I can make assessment totally enjoyable for my students, as these authors suggest, but I can most definitely give it a go!

Gammon and Lawrence talk about ‘flow’ from Csikszentmihalyi (1975), as a mechanism for designing assessments that allow learners to set self-goals based on feedback that feeds forward into the next assessment – or learning point. Assessment challenges learners which can lead to doubts about ability and result in stress about assessment completion. The use of feedback as a tool to improve learning is written about widely. But I like Gammon and Lawrence’s work here about the ‘flow’ of assessments and how the learning experience can be improved through engagement with feedback that setting of self-goals to develop greater confidence in their own learning abilities.

This blog post offers clear, supportive written feedback on a recent assignment to inform learners about what to identify as successes and areas for development in their own future learning.

To support future assignments:

Keep Doing!

  • Include a clear introduction that summarises the assignment to follow;
  • Use the conclusion to answer questions raised in the introduction about the topic of the assignment;
  • Use subheadings to guide the reader and give context to the story of the assignment;
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the topic by identifying and evaluating relevant literature (this can be policy, professional practice articles and scholarly work in education) ;
  • Demonstrate your capacity for reflection by considering the topic of the assignment and how the literature on the topic relates to practice;
  • Using policy, literature and observations to justify arguements.

Start Doing!

  • Move beyond description, e.g. what happened, to analyse why it happened the way it did. What did you do (or not do) to get the result?
  • Use evidence from your classroom (observation of learners) to substantiate your claims;
  • Use a wider range of policy documents and literature to substantiate your claims about learners; and direct your actions within the classroom;
  • Expanding on the points above, consider using the pieces of literature on learning theory to justify your original actions and later analysis of pupil’s reactions to lesson content. How can theory help you to act on and unpick the way learners learn?


Gammon, S. and Lawrence, L., 2006. Chapter 11 Improving student experience through making assessments ‘flow’. In Bryan, C. and Clegg, K. eds., 2019. Innovative assessment in higher education: A handbook for academic practitioners. Routledge.


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