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Article

Christopher DeLuca and Heather Braund

A standards-based accountability paradigm of education currently shapes teaching and learning in many schools around the world. This paradigm is characterized by increased academic standards and greater levels of assessment throughout learning periods. Across policy and curriculum documents, teachers are called to implement assessments to monitor, support, and report on student learning. Assessments can be formative (i.e., used to inform teaching and learning processes) or summative (i.e., used to communicate achievement through grades) and based on a variety of evidence (e.g., tests, performance tasks, conversations, observations, and so on). Given the growing emphasis on assessment as a dominant aspect of contemporary teaching and learning, there is a need for teachers to be assessment literate. The term assessment literacy was initially used to refer to the knowledge and skills teachers required in the area of assessment, historically with a strong focus on principles of measurement and test design. Over the past decade, however, the concept of assessment literacy has evolved. Newer notions of assessment literacy have moved away from demarcating the knowledge and skills needed for competency in assessment and instead recognize that assessment literacy is a contextual and social practice that requires teachers to negotiate their knowledge of assessment in relation to their pedagogy, curriculum, and classroom contexts. Central to this conception is the view that teacher assessment literacy is both sociocultural and contextual, shaped by various factors including teacher background, experience, professional learning, classroom context, student interactions and behaviors, curriculum, and class diversity. With the increased role of assessment in schools, pressure has been placed on initial teacher education programs to prepare beginning teachers with the necessary capacity to become assessment literate. While much of the existing research in the area of assessment education has focused on the value of discrete courses on teacher learning in assessment or on specific pedagogical approaches to enhancing student learning in assessment, results continue to point toward the need for more comprehensive preparation of teachers for the current standards-based paradigm of education. Accordingly, two frameworks for assessment education are described that consider multiple dimensions to preparing assessment literate teachers. These frameworks are DeLuca’s Assessment Education Framework and Xu and Brown’s Teacher Assessment Literacy in Practice Framework. These assessment education frameworks were selected as they work within a contemporary constructivist and sociocultural view of assessment literacy. The two frameworks suggest areas for teacher education that not only include the fundamentals for assessment literacy but also move beyond the fundamentals to engage the messier dimensions of what it means to do assessment work in schools. In both cases, student teachers are pressed to make connections and challenged to enact ideas in context to refine and synthesize their thinking. Xu and Brown detailed the macro- and micro-level influences that further shape assessment decisions in action. The composite picture is that learning to assess is not a neat and tidy enterprise of textbook curriculum. Instead, it is about learning foundational ideas and building an integrated stance toward teacher as assessor through contextualized reflective learning. Driving this learning is an enduring understanding that one’s assessment literacy is always in the making—a continuously evolving competency in relation to new contexts and experiences.

Article

Performance-based assessments are assessments in which learners complete a complex task or series of tasks in order to demonstrate their learning. Originally designed and used with school-aged learners (ages 5 through 18), the use of performance-based assessments gained popularity in the early 2000s as a way to deeply assess learners’ knowledge and skills. The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards has been using performance-based assessments, which include video evidence of teachers, artifacts of student work, and teachers’ written reflections as part of their credentialing process. For individuals seeking their initial teaching license or teaching credential, in the past decade in the United States, teacher education programs have started to use performance-based assessments. The most widely used performance-based assessment in teacher education in the United States is edTPA, an assessment that was either required or used as an option in 37 states at the time this chapter was written. The edTPA assessment, similar to the National Board portfolio, includes video evidence from the teacher candidate’s instruction, lesson plans, artifacts of student learning, and the teacher candidate’s written reflections about their planning, teaching, and assessment of their students. This chapter describes performance-based assessments in teacher education programs, and focuses on how faculty members in one elementary education (students age 5–11) teacher education program revised its curriculum to support teacher candidates’ completion of the edTPA performance-based assessment.

Article

Assessment needs to be a positive experience that can incite learners to progress their learning, understand themselves as learners, become excited about what they learn, and acknowledge that learning is more than the specified and often prescribed curriculum. Educational assessment typically requires students to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, or application of their skills as a way to demonstrate their learning or, more specifically, their learning outcomes. Often this is to attract an external grade or mark related to an externally identified “standard,” or to show their level of “need” and thereby access additional resources. Students generally have little say in when or what is assessed, and their experiences have largely not been taken into account. There is a distinct difference between what a student learns and how the assessment results reflect their learning. To incite learning, assessment practices and processes need to celebrate learning and provide learners with positive, encouraging messages that their efforts contribute to their own growth. When the assessment process enables learners to see their own culture and identity valued, and allows opportunities to showcase diversity of learning, it becomes a meaningful and authentic process. In educational contexts, the process of assessment is typically an approach to support, measure, initiate, monitor, and explain the learning of self or others. Assessment of student learning has complex social, emotional, and academic influences on learners and on their lives more generally. A key unintended consequence of these practices has been well documented with regards to negative social and emotional consequences for the student, and these must be weighed against the “good” any assessment will do in terms of knowing the student and their learning aspirations. However, while there are distracting elements associated with the assessment of students, there is also value in using appropriate methods and processes to enhance and incite learning. Ultimately the rights of the learner to be included in their own assessment practices is key, and therefore it is argued the young person must be an agentic and capable assessor of their own learning for any assessment to be educational, culturally relevant, and authentic.

Article

Curriculum and assessment systems are tightly connected, both in theory and practice. However, this is not always the case when it comes to curriculum and assessment reforms. This has created major problems for teachers and in the implementation of the reforms from a governing point of view. Sweden was one of the first countries to adopt a management-by-objectives curriculum and assessment system. The case of Sweden illustrates some of the problems that arose as a consequence of not seeing the close connection between curriculum and assessments when reforming the educational system. The ongoing reform of management by objectives that started in the early 1990s has been adjusted several times since and has most recently been considered as a parallel curriculum and assessment reform. Teachers have not been involved throughout the shaping and implementation of this reform, but they have instead been seen as troublesome learners of how to work in a management-by-objectives system. This has led to constant revisions, production of supporting materials, and ad hoc policies. However, in 2018 there was a shift in reform strategies in relation to curriculum, syllabi, and grading revisions, where teachers became much more involved in the reform than they had in the preceding decades. So far it is inconclusive how these changes will affect the work of the teachers and the pupils’ learning; there has evidently been a case of “system’s learning.”

Article

Mark Carter, Jennifer Stephenson, and Sarah Carlon

The term data-based decision-making can refer to a wide range of practices from formative classroom use of monitoring in order to improve instruction to system-wide use of “big” data to guide educational policy. Within the context of special education, a primary focus has been on the formative classroom use of data to guide teachers in improving instruction for individual students. For teachers, this typically involves the capacity to (1) determine what data need to be collected to appropriately monitor the skill being taught, (2) collect that data, (3) interpret the data and make appropriate decisions, and (4) implement changes as needed. A number of approaches to such data-based decision-making have evolved, including precision teaching, curriculum-based assessment, and curriculum-based measurement. Evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses indicates instruction incorporating data-based decision-making has positive effects on outcomes for students with special education needs although the size of these effects has been variable. While the extent of the research base is modest, there are indications that some specific factors may be related to this variability. For example, the use of decision-making rules and graphic display of data appears to improve student outcomes and the frequency of data collection may differentially affect improvement. The presence and frequency of support offered to teachers may also be important to student outcomes. There is a need to increase our research base examining data-based decision-making and, more specifically, a need to more clearly define and characterize moderators that contribute to its effectiveness. In addition, there is a case for research on the wider use of data on student outcomes to inform broader policy and practice.

Article

Nurahimah Mohd Yusoff and David Jimoh Kayode

As stipulated in some educational documents, no country can grow beyond the quality of its teachers. Thus, teachers need necessary support in discharging their responsibilities, and teacher evaluation is a valuable tool because of the relevance of teacher evaluation to both the teachers and the stakeholders. Therefore, teacher evaluation in terms of formative and summative assessments helps in determining what is working well in classrooms, identifying areas of improvement for teachers, and providing options for teachers’ professional development to support their continued growth. Stakeholders in education have several roles in ensuring effective teacher-evaluation strategies and in determining how effective teacher evaluation can be achieved. In assessing students, teachers test student knowledge in order to determine what they have learned, what they have not understood, and how effectively the courses are being taught.

Article

Nicole Hayes and Bruce Pridham

Mentoring is a positive, supportive facilitation of learning and development between a person with more experience, knowledge, or expertise in a certain field, and a person who is less knowledgeable or is new to that field. In the tertiary setting, mentoring programs take on many forms and structures, with a range of objectives such as support for transition, academic supplemented instruction, and social support. All mentoring programs, regardless of structure, are fundamentally a transactional process of support underpinned by a mutually respectful relationship. The foundations of mentoring are drawn from theoretical frameworks grounded in social constructivism, social learning, applied learning, and developmental theory. These frameworks inform aspects of collaborative learning and outline the multiple benefits for participants including the building of interpersonal, problem-solving and communication skills, increasing academic success and motivation. Successful mentoring programs are conceptualized and planned to ensure the program meets its objectives, has sound processes, clear expectations and roles for all participants, and an effective evaluation system for continual refinement and improvement. When the objective of the mentoring is to increase academic knowledge and skill, the greatest success occurs when the mentor has the expertise, experience, and the ability to scaffold the personal construction of meaning for the mentee. In initial teacher education (ITE) contexts mentoring programs derive successful outcomes for the mentee, mentor, academic teaching staff, organization, and ultimately the profession. The less able students require support and scaffolding to promote and enhance deep learning and the mentor experiences altruism, while refining and practicing pedagogical skills. Mentees and mentors gain self-efficacy, confidence in pedagogical skills, and inter- intrapersonal skills. Staff are able to support diverse open learning tasks to accommodate a personalized learning approach for large cohorts with trained mentors working in the classroom providing point-of-need feedback to maximize learning gains. The university gains through low-cost innovations that increase levels of academic success and positively influence retention and student satisfaction. Society benefits from the resultant high-quality graduates, who are “classroom ready” and prepared to meet the challenges of complex learning environments. Mentoring plays an integral role in the development of teacher professional identity through modelling and intergenerational relationships. Changing accreditation requirements and government-led inquiries into initial teacher education courses have prompted a review of current practices in the tertiary sector. To better meet the needs of the workforce, universities have a greater responsibility to demonstrate the classroom readiness of graduands. Successful teacher education programs utilize mentoring to support and enculturate the next generation of practitioners and ensure they are work ready. Structured mentoring programs transform the student experience, and create cohesive program designs to guide and support preservice teachers who are engaged in the process of learning and reinforcing their positions as developing teachers. Students in near-peer mentoring programs develop a range of mentoring skills and experiences that complement their academic development as they enter the teaching profession.

Article

Sociocultural perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment support teachers in developing and implementing inclusive pedagogies. Sociocultural assessment approaches disregard impairment as an identity in itself, privileging the strengths and knowledge evident in observed interactions. A sociocultural approach to assessment recognizes the dynamic interaction between teaching, learning, and assessment, spread across people, places, and time. Where traditional forms of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment focus on a decontextualized individual, a sociocultural perspective pays close attention to contexts. Teachers’ practices, expectations, and understandings of learning and diversity form a key part of the contexts. In culturally responsive paradigms, learning is recognized as sociocultural—being informed through interactions with others. All students are recognized and valued as people who gain experiences and knowledge across many contexts. Multiple perspectives are valued as shared understandings and constructions of learning are developed in response to observations and interactions in a community of learners—where students and teachers learn with and from each other. Teachers who recognize themselves as capable of teaching everyone in the class are more likely to recognize everyone as a learner, to think critically about their positioning and understanding of disability, and to plan teaching, learning, and assessment in inclusive ways of working.

Article

The manner in which special educators and allied health personnel communicate and coordinate their combined services for children with complex conditions (such as autism and severe communication impairments) is considered to be an important factor in educational outcomes. For example, speech-language pathologists play a crucial role in supporting teachers by assessing a child’s communication potential, designing and then implementing collaborative communication intervention programs. However, clinicians trained to administer standardized expressive language assessments may be somewhat unsure where to start when asked to assess a child who presents with nonsymbolic communication skills. These highly specialized workplace situations are likely to evoke circumstances where professionals may need additional one-to-one guidance. The need for continuing professional development has long been recognized by the education sector when developing effective educational provision for children with special needs. To that end, tertiary institutions have a commitment to support the continuing education of their graduates once they begin their careers. Unfortunately, not everyone can invest the years that full-time or part-time postgraduate courses of study demand. Due to a reduction in postgraduate completion rates, universities have recently accepted that offering micro-credentialing (i.e., continuing professional development in small, intensive chunks) is now a part of their mandate. Blended learning is a viable model for such professional development because this approach provides access to an online community where collegial sharing and discussion can occur. It can also offer face-to-face sessions that may strengthen community building and instant access to a network of professionals for training and development, in an anytime and anywhere professional learning environment, resulting in the fostering of a collaborative professional community.

Article

Self-regulation is a complex, multifaceted concept that can be described as a higher mental process oriented toward children’s (and adults’) metacognitive, motivational, and behaviorally active participation in their own learning. It includes cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional development. It is related to several other higher mental processes, notably executive function, and the two are sometimes confused and even conflated. They are, however, not interchangeable, and it is vital to clarify both what self-regulation is and what it is not. Failure to do so may lead to confusion at practice and policy levels, and ineffective or inappropriate practice, potentially disadvantageous to young children. Self-regulation may be significant in all aspects of development, particularly in early childhood, and efforts to enhance children’s self-regulation may be among the most effective educational interventions. Interest is reflected in developments in the field of assessment, including by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and in government policy in, inter alia, England. Play, particularly pretense, problem-solving, and talk (both private speech and dialogue) are advocated as rich, naturalistic contexts for the development, support, and meaningful assessment of young children’s self-regulation. Some specific approaches to assessment are identified, notably observation and stimulated recall, in the form of reflective dialogues, including the use of video. Decontextualized assessment is suggested as a potentially less effective approach in capturing the full depth and range of young children’s self-regulatory competence.

Article

Writing  

Danielle S. McNamara and Laura K. Allen

Writing is a crucial means of communicating with others and thus vital to success and survival in modern society. Writing processes rely on virtually all aspects of cognition (e.g., working memory, motivation, affect, self-regulation, prior knowledge, problem solving) and are naturally embedded in social contexts. Social factors include writers’ objectives, audience, genre, and mode of writing. For example, the increased use of the Internet has rendered writing for informal purposes more frequent, and writing mechanics (e.g., deleting, spell checking) and search for information more efficient. Research on educational interventions to improve writing points to the importance of providing students with instruction and practice using writing strategies, writing practice with feedback (e.g., instructor, automated), and collaborative writing (including peer feedback). Given the inherent complexity of writing, it is important to help students learn how to write across various situations with varying purposes and demands. This necessitates reading many types of text genres (e.g., narrative vs. informational writing), writing frequently, and revising based on feedback. Since the turn of the century, there has been a substantial increase in research on writing processes, including methods to improve writing. However, there remains a substantial need for additional experimental work to understand writing processes as well as more evidence on which types of interventions are most beneficial in helping students to improve their writing. Feedback from both cognitive and sociocultural researchers should inform future revisions of the standardized guidelines and assessments with the long-term goal of developing a clearly defined set of standards for academic excellence in writing.

Article

Stephen M. Ritchie

STEM education in schools has become the subject of energetic promotion by universities and policymakers. The mythical narrative of STEM in crisis has driven policy to promote STEM education throughout the world in order to meet the challenges of future workforce demands alongside an obsession with high-stakes testing for national and international comparisons as a proxy for education quality. Unidisciplinary emphases in the curriculum have failed to deliver on the goal to attract more students to pursue STEM courses and careers or to develop sophisticated STEM literacies. A radical shift in the curriculum toward integrated STEM education through multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary/ transdisciplinary projects is required to meet future challenges. Project-based activities that engage students in solving real-world problems requiring multiple perspectives and skills that are authentically assessed by autonomous professional teachers are needed. Governments and non-government sponsors should support curriculum development with teachers, and their continuing professional development in this process. Integrating STEM with creative expression from the arts shows promise at engaging students and developing their STEM literacies. Research into the efficacy of such projects is necessary to inform authorities and teachers of possibilities for future developments. Foci for further research also are identified.