Fraser Lauchlan has long been a researcher and practitioner in the area of Dynamic Assessment (DA), and this book is an attempt to help make DA practices accessible and relevant for educational and developmental psychologists today. With an emphasis on providing structured intervention that directly follows appropriate assessment, this book is structured for ease of use and moves through a clear structure from theoretical background to case studies and professional development tools.
In the early sections of the book, Lauchlan and Carrigan describe the key ideas of formative assessment and DA. They pay close attention to the idea that identification of a child's strengths/weaknesses and learning style can guide effective classroom instruction, and that there is little point in assessing merely to label a child; rather, assessment needs to be useful for future intervention. They note that DA is not meant as a replacement for standardised assessment, but rather an addition to provide more information. In their theory section, they present a strong case for DA and detail five important reasons why educational and developmental psychologists may want to utilise a dynamic assessment approach:
• It allows an examination of the process of a child's answers rather than just an examination of the answers themselves. This can hold keys to understanding learning strengths and deficits.
• It provides an opportunity for a child to demonstrate willingness and ability to learn — in essence, DA can provide a response to intervention benchmark.
• One can judge how/if child learns new strategies and at what rate.
• It can aid in minimising test anxiety and the effect of cultural and/or minority factors.
• The assessment itself can provide sufficient intervention by helping change or adjust a child's ways of doing tasks.
The latter sections are neatly broken up into cohesive parts: the process of DA; recommended interventions following on from DA; and a comprehensive bank of materials for use by psychologists, teachers, and parents. The book provides guidelines for all stages and divides DA into two broad themes — cognitive and affective — with checklists and principles for both. There are profile sheets, factors sheets, and tailored strategies that are matched to the learning profile checklists and break down learning principles by theme. Not only does each stage have accompanying photocopy-ready handouts, there are also professional development materials to provide to teachers. Involving teachers, parents, and the students themselves in the stages of DA is very important and this is made easy using the structures and tools supplied.
In all, this is a valuable, well-structured book. It is full of useable strategies and aids for planning and implementing interventions guided by dynamic assessments.