Dynamic Assessment: Co-constructing the Future with English Language Learners

  • Matthew E. PoehnerEmail author
  • Tianyu Qin
  • Lu Yu
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


All forms of assessment are concerned with interpreting individuals’ performances not merely for the sake of describing those performances but for employing them as a basis for making claims about the knowledge and abilities believed to underlie them. Dynamic Assessment (DA) is a framework that challenges more conventional views of performance and the evidence of abilities most appropriate to forming generalizations regarding abilities. Specifically, DA requires the integration of teaching into assessment activity for the purpose of understanding learner responsiveness. Based on the theoretical writings of L. S. Vygotsky, DA proponents consider learner independent performance of tasks to reveal abilities that have fully formed whereas learner responsiveness to support that is offered when difficulties arise indicates abilities that may not have fully developed but are emerging. In this way, DA offers a developmental diagnosis that does not predict learner future functioning solely on the basis of past development but that instead begins to construct a future with learners during the assessment itself. This chapter considers the major theoretical underpinnings of DA and the models and principles elaborated in the extensive DA research literature concerned with cognitive abilities and general education. Discussion then turns to implementation of DA with L2 learners. Two studies are presented in detail that emphasize DA’s potential in both formal language testing situations and instructional contexts.


Dynamic Assessment Sociocultural Theory formative assessment corrective feedback scaffolding 


  1. Bachman LF, Palmer AS (1996) Language testing in practice: designing and developing useful language tests. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Black P, Wiliam D (1998) Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: principles, policy & practice 5(1):7–74Google Scholar
  3. Cumming A, So S (1996) Tutoring second language text revision: does the approach to instruction or the language of communication make a difference? J Second Lang Writ 5:197–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cumming A, Kantor R, Baba K, Erdosy U, Eouanzoui K, James M (2005) Differences in written discourse in independent and integrated prototype tasks for next generation TOEFL. Assess Writ 10:5–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dixson DD, Worrell FC (2016) Formative and summative assessment in the classroom. Theory Pract 55(2):153–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ferris DR, Hedgcock J (2014) Teaching L2 composition: purpose, process, and practice. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Feuerstein R, Rand Y, Hoffman MB (1979) The dynamic assessment of retarded performers: the learning potential assessment device, theory, instruments, and techniques. University Park Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  8. Feuerstein R, Feuerstein RS, Falik LH (2010) Beyond smarter: mediated learning and the brain’s capacity for change. Teachers College, Columbia University, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Feuerstein R, Feuerstein R, Falik LH (2015) Beyond smarter: mediated learning and the brain’s capacity for change. Teachers College Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Gardner J (2010) Developing teacher assessments: An introduction. In J. Gardner, W. Harlen, L. Hayward, G. Stobart, & M. Montgomery (Eds.), Developing teacher assessment (pp. 1–11). New York, NY: Open University PressGoogle Scholar
  11. Gebril A (2009) Score generalizability of academic writing tasks: does one test method fit it all? Lang Test 26:507–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Guo L, Crossely SA, McNamara DS (2013) Predicting human judgments of essay quality in both integrated and independent second language writing samples: a comparison study. Assess Writ 18:218–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Haywood HC, Lidz CS (2007) Dynamic assessment in practice. Clinical and educational applications. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Hyland K (2003) Second language writing. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hyland K, Hyland F (2006) Contexts and issues in feedback on L2 writing: an introduction. In: Hyland K, Hyland F (eds) Feedback in second language writing: contexts and issues. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Knoch U, Sitajalabhorn W (2013) A closer look at integrated writing tasks: towards a more focused definition for assessment purposes. Assess Writ 18:300–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kozulin A, Garb E (2002) Dynamic assessment of EFL text comprehension. Sch Psychol Int 23(1):112–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lantolf JP, Poehner ME (2004) Dynamic assessment: bringing the past into the future. J Appl Linguistics 1:49–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lantolf JP, Poehner ME (2014) Sociocultural theory and the pedagogical imperative in L2 education. Vygotskian praxis and the research/practice divide. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lantolf JP, Poehner ME (eds), with Swain M (2018) The Routledge handbook of sociocultural theory and second language development. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Leki I, Carson J (1997) “Completely different worlds”: EAP and the writing experiences of ESL students in university courses. TESOL Q 31:39–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Levi T (2012) The effect of dynamic assessment on the performance of students in oral proficiency tests in English as a foreign language. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Tel Aviv University, Tel AvivGoogle Scholar
  23. Lu Y (in preparation) Dynamic assessment of academic writing among L2 learners of English. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University, University ParkGoogle Scholar
  24. Moss PA (2003) Reconceptualizing validity for classroom assessment. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice 22(4):13–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. O’Halloran KL (2011) Multimodal discourse analysis. In: Hyland K, Paltridge B (eds) The continuum companion to discourse. Bloomsbury Academic, London, pp 120–137Google Scholar
  26. Poehner ME (2008) Dynamic assessment: a Vygotskian approach to understanding and promoting second language development. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Poehner ME (2018) Probing and provoking L2 development: the object of mediation in dynamic assessment and mediated development. In: Lantolf JP, Poehner ME, Swain M (eds) The Routledge handbook of sociocultural theory and second language development. Routledge, London, pp 249–265Google Scholar
  28. Poehner ME, Lantolf JP (2013) Bringing the ZPD into the equation: capturing L2 development during Computerized Dynamic Assessment (C-DA). Lang Teach Res 17(3):323–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Poehner ME, Zhang J, Lu X (2015) Computerized dynamic assessment (C-DA): diagnosing L2 development according to learner responsiveness to meditation. Lang Test 32(3):1–21Google Scholar
  30. Qin T (2018) Computerized dynamic assessment of L2 Chinese implicature comprehension. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Carnegie Mellon University, PittsburghGoogle Scholar
  31. Rahimi M, Kushki A, Nassaji H (2015) Diagnostic and developmental potentials of dynamic assessment for L2 writing. Lang Sociocult Theory 2:161–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ratner C, Silva DNH (eds) (2017) Vygotsky and Marx: toward a Marxist psychology. Taylor & Francis, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Sadler DR (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science 18:119–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Searle JR (1975) Speech acts. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Severino C, Cogie J (2016) Writing centers and second and foreign language writers. In: Manchón RM, Matsuda PK (eds) Handbook of second and foreign language writing. De Gruyter, Berlin, pp 453–471Google Scholar
  36. Shepard LA (2006) Classroom assessment. In R. L. Brennan (Ed.), Educational measurement (pp. 623–646). Westport, CT: PraegerGoogle Scholar
  37. Shrestha P, Coffin C (2012) Dynamic assessment, tutor mediation and academic writing development. Assess Writ 17:55–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sternberg RJ, Grigorenko EL (2002) Dynamic testing. The nature and measurement of learning potential. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  39. Taguchi N, Li S, Liu Y (2013) Comprehension of conversational implicature in L2 Chinese. Pragmat Cogn 21(1):139–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Torrance H, Pryor J (1998) Investigating formative assessment: Teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom. McGraw-Hill Education (UK)Google Scholar
  41. Tzuriel D (2011) Revealing the effects of cognitive education programmes through dynamic assessment. Assess Educ: Princ Policy Pract 18(2):113–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vygotsky LS (1978) Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  43. Vygotsky LS (1987) In: Rieber RW, Carton AS (eds) The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 1: problems of general psychology, including the volume thinking and speech. Plenum, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. Vygotsky LS (1998) The problem of age. In: Rieber RW (ed) The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 5. Child psychology. Plenum, New York, pp 187–206Google Scholar
  45. Weigle SC (2004) Integrating reading and writing in a competency test for non-native speakers of English. Assess Writ 9:27–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Williams J (2004) Tutoring and revision: second language writers in the writing center. J Second Lang Writ 13:173–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhang H, van Compernolle RA (2016) Learning potential and the dynamic assessment of L2 Chinese grammar through elicited imitation. Lang Sociocult Theory 3(1):99–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Languages Education and Applied Linguistics, Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations