Informal or regular assessment is usually followed in classrooms because teaching often consists of frequent switches in who speaks and who listens, and teachers make many of their decisions within one second. In such a rapidly changing environment, where teachers have to think on their feet and are denied the luxury of hours of reflection over each of their pedagogic choices, assessment has to be carried out on the move. That is why so much informal assessment is often barely perceptible as the flow of the lesson continues, since it is neatly interlaced with normal-looking instruction and activities. Indeed, many teachers would not even regard the common question, ‘Is anybody not sure what you’re supposed to do?’ as assessment, but it is, informing the teacher of which pupils might need individual help before starting on the task in hand.
Bennett has explored a large number of theories relating to pupil learning, teaching and assessment, and believes these theories has a lot more to do mainly on psychology rather than teaching and learning, Bennett offers an explanation of the ambivalence sensed by teachers in their quest to identify these theories which effectively inform their practice. He advances the notion that theories take limited account of the complexities of classroom life. The potential value of such theories seems, therefore, to be marginalized by teachers.
In citing Doyle's work, Bennett indicates that classroom environments are complex places in which teachers and pupils adapt to each other and where the created environment impacts on them both. The classroom environment is built by the way of communication between teachers and pupils. Doyle's model of classroom learning processes proceeds on the assumption that 'learning is a covert, intellectual activity which proceeds in the socially complex, potentially rich environment'. If this perspective relates to teachers' experiences in carrying out their role then there are clear restrictions to the applications of many theories of learning to teaching contexts. (Dunn, 2002)
Identifying the prominence of complexity by no means excuses careful exploration of the issues. It is recognised that one of the aims of schooling is to promote pupil learning yet it is not all agreed about what should be prioritised to comprise such learning. Further more, there remains considerable disagreement as to how learning occurs. It might be said that since the adoption of the National Curriculum we are nearer to agreeing what should be learnt. However, the ways in which learning occurs seems to be rather side-tracked from what are identified as more pressing mechanisms for teaching curriculum content with the main aim of measuring and raising standards.