27 SES 08 A, Assessment Issues in School Subjects
Today grading and assessment is a globally discussed topic that gets a lot of attention, not least in media. This is due to international tests and assessments aiming to compare student’s results, such as PISA. On national level Swedish students do national tests in grade 3, 6 and 9. The aim of these tests is to support fair and equal assessment and grading and provide a basis for an analysis of the level of meeting the knowledge requirements set in the national syllabus for each school subject (Skolverket 2014)
But not all subjects are included in this kind of tests, nor on international or national level. In Sweden by tradition Art, Music, Sloyd (Craft), Home economics and Physical education are classified as practical- aesthetical school subjects. They are regarded as ”different” as they are either seen to combine “practical and theoretical knowledge” (Holte et.al. 2013), subjects of “making” (Tin 2013), focus on manual skills (Hjälmeskog 2000) or as built on a tradition of knowledge that is “action- and experienced-based” (Dewey 1916/1997). No mandatory tests are available for the so-called practical-aesthetical subjects and they are not included in any international comparisons. This exclusion is also reflected in didactic research on assessment, which so far primarily focuses on Swedish and Mathematics, and to some extent in Natural science, as a consequence of the international comparisons (Forsberg & Lindberg 2010). Further, Forsberg & Lindberg in their survey of Swedish research on assessment, argue that research on assessment in other subjects are needed as well as on teachers’ view on and experiences of assessment, how they reason about and motivate their judgements. The aim of the study is to contribute to the knowledge about assessment of practical- aesthetical elements of teaching and learning.
The study focuses on practical-aesthetical elements in teaching and learning. Sloyd and Home economics are chosen as examples. Furthermore, Natural science will be included, as comparison and to get a point of reference. The choice of Natural science is due to the laboratory work that in many ways can be seen as compatible with for example cooking in a Home economics lesson or the process of making an object in the Sloyd class, while there at the same time are standard arrangements for assessment in Natural science through the national tests.
The national evaluation from 2003 (NU03) uncovers some difficulties concerning evaluation in the practical-aesthetical subjects. In Sloyd and Home Economics there was a discrepancy between the students’ ideas about what the teacher assess, and what the teachers say they focus on. For example in Sloyd teachers said they focused on the process, while the student thought it was the product. Further, in Sloyd as well as Home economics it seems as if the students are assessed on traditional and proven grounds rather than in accordance with the syllabus (Skolverket, 2004). Borg (2007) discusses limitations of the “Sloyd language” saying that it seems as if it is more common to discuss what the student have made/produced rather than to discuss qualities of learning and increased knowledge. She discusses causes to the lack of assessment vocabulary in terms of the mixture of concepts generated from several (non-academic) areas and a weak connection to research.
Within the Natural Sciences assessment have been studied within different school subjects, and from several perspectives. However, Ottander & Grelsson (2006) argue that there is still not much knowledge about teachers’ methods and criteria for assessment of laboratory work. In their study of four Biology teachers they show that two of them did not pay much attention to assessment of laboratory work at all, and the other two had tried to use a formal procedure, but gave up as it took too much time.
Borg, Kajsa (2007) Craft (Sloyd) Education – Processes or/and Products. What do Teachers Assess? I: Follett, G. & Valentine, L. (eds.) New Craft – Future Voices, Conference Proceedings. Dundee University, Scotland, (pp. 388-398). Borg, Kajsa (2008). Slöjdlärares bedömning av elevprestationer – Kognitiva matriser som metod. I Rönnqvist, Carina & Vinterek, Monika (red), Se skolan – forskningsmetoder i pedagogiskt arbete. Umeå Universitet. Dewey, John (1916/1997). Demokrati och utbildning. Göteborg: Daidalos Englund, Tomas (1986). Curriculum as a political problem. Changing educational conceptions with special reference to citizenship education. Uppsala Studies in Education 25. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Forsberg Eva, Lindberg Viveca.(2010). Svensk forskning om bedömning- en kartläggning.Vetenskapsrådets rapportserie. 2:2010 Hjälmeskog, Karin (2000). ”Democracy begins at home”. Utbildning om och för hemmet som medborgarfostran. Uppsala Studies in Education 94. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Holte, Asle; Hallås, Oddrun; Styve, Eldbjørg & Vindenes, Njål (2013). Rammefaktorernes betydning for tillretteleggningen av opplæringen i de praktisk-estetiske fagene – en casestudie. Acta Didactica Norge, vol 7, no 1, pp. 1-19. Lundqvist, Eva & Lidar, Malena (2013). Nationella prov i NO och lärares val av undervisningsinnehåll. Utbildning & Demokrati, vol. 22, nr.3 s. 85-106. Ottander, Christina & Grelsson, Gunnel (2006). Laboratory work: the teachers’ perspective. Journal of Biological Education, vol. 40, nr. 3, s. 113-118. Skolverket (2005). Nationell utvärdering av grundskolan 2003 - Bild, hem- och konsumentkunskap,idrott och hälsa, musik och slöjd (NU-03). Stockholm: Skolverket. Skolverket (2014), http://www.skolverket.se/bedomning/nationella-prov-bedomningsstod (access 2014-01-31) Tin, Mikkel B. (2013) Making and the sense it makes. Conceptual manifesto simultaneously published in FORMakademisk, 6(2); Studies in material thinking, 9; and TechneA Series, 20(3) + url
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