This study details an innovative approach to coordinating and enhancing multiple levels of assessment and discursive feedback around an existing multi-media curricular environment called Astronomy Village®. As part of a broader design-based research programme, the study analysed small group interactions in feedback activities across two design cycles. The goal of this analysis is to develop an understanding of the ways that a situative approach to assessment and practise supports learning. Findings demonstrate ways that student and teacher engagement in collaborative activities support and constrain meaningful understanding, which we consider in terms of a trajectory of participation in and across conversations and written assessments, as well as individual learning gains on formal classroom examinations and standards-oriented external tests. Analyses of complementary formulations of domain concepts - discourse practises and assessment performance - suggest that participation in social forms of scientific engagement supports both learning and subsequent performance in more formal contexts. We suggest design principles for integrating the formative functions of discursive feedback with the summative functions of traditional assessment, through participation in different forms of science discourse(s).
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