Julie Sampson  |  Learning Director

How to better develop student capabilities continues to be a focus in national, state and local educational circles.

Professor Sandra Milligan from the University of Melbourne spoke at the recent Learner Profile Project Day, highlighting that the capacity to thrive at and beyond school required ensuring schools were looking broadly at five areas of education. Basic Literacies, and Knowledge & Know-how remain important. However, Connectivity, Student Agency and Learning Capabilities need to also be a focus in education for the 21st century. We continue to explore what this means for teaching and learning at Cornerstone College.

The College is involved in two multi-year AISSA projects. The Meta-praxis project team is focusing on capabilities in the Middle School, for its third year. The Learner Profile project, in its second year, has a focus on Senior School. We are part way through a design and prototyping process, having investigated different capabilities, determined to initially explore Critical Thinking, and framed a learning progression for assessment. We are now in a trialling and evaluation phase.
This year we will also work on developing a Learner Profile for each student in Year 10. We are currently exploring how Charis can provide a mechanism for the development of the profile with students, and communicate it to parents/caregivers.

The capabilities are about developing skills and particular mindsets so they will be assessed on a progression of development. A letter grade for assessment is not useful in this context. Rather, a progression defines the skills at each stage of development and helps students and teachers identify what a student can already do and what they need to develop next.

The Learner Profile Project is co-lead by the University of Melbourne. This has been a very beneficial alliance, further developing our understanding of the capabilities and how best to assess them. Our rubric was analysed by our university project advisor, providing valuable feedback. The team then trialled the learning progression in Personal Learning Plan (PLP) last year.

The other benefit of the project has been working with 18 schools across educational sectors, all of whom have developed progressions for different capabilities. The progressions have been shared so that all the schools benefit from the work of the collective. We can select, review and revise any number of these rubrics to develop Cornerstone’s set of capability progressions.

Professor Milligan highlighted a number challenges to developing a meaningful Learner Profile. It needs to be transparent, align with school values, allow for authentic assessment, be feasible and useable for teachers and students, and provide comparable assessment data for SACE and university purposes.

While these challenges are somewhat daunting, as project team members we are excited to be involved at the forefront of the development of capability assessment tools and Learner Profiles, collaborating with many schools, the University of Melbourne, AISSA and SACE. Our investigations are contributing to the larger educational work in SA and beyond.