Some affordances are sought out, and even designed. Some fall into your lap / onto your desk.

The affordances for benchmarking and mastery, in e-assessment at Portsmouth University are a case in point. We set up a new version of the first year mathematics courses in calculus and linear algebra about a year ago, and found, as we proceeded, that the software allowed us to set in-class exams in which students could repeat individual questions three times (with new values each time), instead of repeating whole assessments three times.

As we monitored their progress, we noticed that they were shifting from 'collecting grades' to 'accumulating competencies' - quite a different set of affordances and behaviour.

This raises the intriguing possibility that it might be possible to relegate assessment to certifying benchmarking and mastery that the students have already achieved - i.e. to transform externally dirven 'summative assessment' into internally motivated benchmarking and mastery. And get the 'learning tail to wagy the assessment dog' for a change. That has a nice ring to it too!

See the presentation slides (with a brief narrative) here: