Assessment for learning (AfL) practices observed in case studies in a North Queensland school were analysed from a sociocultural theoretical perspective. AfL practices of feedback, dialogue and peer assessment were viewed as an opportunity for students to learn the social expectations for being an autonomous learner, or central participant, within the classroom community of practice. This process of becoming more expert and belonging within the community of practice involved students negotiating identities of participation that included knowing both academic skills and the social expectations within the classroom.
This article argues that when AfL practices are viewed as ways of enhancing participation, there is potential for learners to negotiate identities as autonomous learners. AfL practices within the daily classroom interactions and pedagogy that enabled students to develop a shared repertoire, joint enterprise and mutual engagement in the classroom communities of practice are described. The challenges for teachers in shifting their gaze to patterns of participation are also briefly discussed.