10 SES 08 C, Quality, Assessment and Teacher Training
The current state of Kazakhstani education could be described as a strong initiative to shift from the heritage of the Soviet type of education, based on the communist ideology, to an education system oriented to the market economy. In response to the calls for Knowledge-Based Economy to enhance intellectual capacity, Kazakhstan initiated some major reforms in the funding, content, and management of education (MESRK, 2010). The most recent and important change is a change in assessment policy. Due to introducing these changes, the question of preparing teachers to assess was on the agenda of modernization of teacher training programs. Assessment education in Kazakhstan was firstly offered for in-service teachers by introducing three-level courses for all secondary teachers, and other seminars, and workshops in assessment. However, the study on secondary teachers’ assessment beliefs and practices found that even if teachers were participating in in-service training, where a small part was devoted to assessment, teachers do not feel confident in using alternative assessment approaches in class (Tynybayeva, 2016). This might be because these in-service teachers were not prepared to assess using alternative assessment approaches during their initial training during which they form their understanding of teaching, learning and assessment. Initial teacher training program has not been offering a special and separate course on assessment until now. The topic of assessment is briefly taught within the course on Pedagogy. In this regard, Makhmetova (2014) study on university teachers reports that they gain assessment competence mostly by observing their own teachers, and by trial and error. And only recently, in 2017, a separate course Technology of Criterion-Referenced Assessment has been introduced in all teacher education programs. Thus, the current study, conducted within the frame of my doctoral thesis on Conceptualization of Assessment among Pre-Service Teachers in Public Universities of Kazakhstan, aims to examine the curriculum of teacher education program offered to develop assessment education of pre-service teachers in Kazakhstan. The research question of the study is: What curriculum is offered to pre-service teachers to build their understanding of assessment? The study is explained in the frame of propositional knowledge theory, which is about the direct transmission of knowledge required for preservice teachers in their teaching at schools (Bullock, 2011). In the field of assessment education, this is not about the content that needs to be further transmitted by pre-service teachers to their own students, but rather about the content knowledge that needs to be applied to assess students. For example, in the case of assessment education, propositional knowledge will be about teaching validity and reliability in assessment, introducing formative and summative assessment approaches, or any other assessment techniques that could be used in the future teachers’ classrooms. These and other types of knowledge about assessment are offered in a teacher education curriculum through both implicit and explicit courses on assessment. Special attention to the theories taught in preservice teacher education has been paid by Korthagen and Kessels (1999). Making a distinction in theories taught for preservice teachers, they refer to Aristotle’s concepts of episteme and phronesis knowledge. Episteme knowledge is the research-based knowledge or objective knowledge, whereas phronesis knowledge is about the context in which preservice teachers will teach (Korthagen & Kessels, 1999, p. 8). Phronesis’s knowledge connects objective theory with context-related knowledge, which is closer to real classroom situations. However, both are equally important in designing the curriculum of preservice teacher education. At this point, it is crucial to have the content in assessment courses to be updated, research-based, and relevant to the context of assessment enacted in the schools of the country where preservice teachers are going to teach and assess.
Document analysis was used to examine assessment education offered in pre-service teacher education curriculum in Public universities of Kazakhstan. Initially, I was interested in the curriculum of Pedagogy and Psychology of Primary Education, Pedagogy and Psychology, Social Pedagogy, and Self-Knowledge. The rationale behind choosing pre-service teachers enrolled to the programs named as the research sample was that an analyzed literature points out that elementary and primary education teacher programs are more focused on obtaining pedagogical knowledge rather than subject teachers. However, during my meeting with the director of Primary Education and Psychology Department of one of Public universities of Kazakhstan, which is mainly focus in preparing teachers, she told me that pre-service teachers of Pedagogy and Psychology, Social Pedagogy and Self-Knowledge are not supposed to assess students when they graduate and go to school to work. Therefore, I dropped these two programs and ended up with one program Pedagogy and Psychology of Primary Education. This program is preparing primary teachers who teach children from 1 to 4th grade. A combination of sampling techniques was used to select documents for analysis. Firstly, documents were divided into three levels: national, institutional, and subject. For selecting national level documents sampling was not applied because these documents were unique ones. For example, the unique documents such as the State Educational Standard for Pedagogy and Methodology of Primary Education, State Educational Standard of Higher Education, and the document About Standard Educational Curricula in Higher Education of Kazakhstan. The documents of intuitional level are documents that are designed by and applied in the pedagogical faculty of the Public University where I collected a qualitative data. The examples of institutional level documents are Work curriculum of Pedagogy and Methodology of Elementary Education speciality, and Work plan of pedagogical practice Pedagogy and Methodology of Elementary Education. Subject level documents are documents designed and used by teacher educators of this university, for example, syllabuses of Pedagogy and New Teaching and Learning Approaches courses. All these documents were analyzed twice. The initial descriptive analysis of documents was done, and after that documents were analyzed using a conventional content analysis in NVivo (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005).
Assessment education offered for primary pre-service teachers is provided within a newly introduced course on Technology of Criterion-Based Assessment. However, the syllabus of this course has not been fully developed yet for primary pre-service teachers, and it is in the stage of continues development. In addition, there is no explicit assessment discipline and no explicit statement about assessment education in the descriptions of the disciplines listed in the typical (standard) educational program. But still, disciplines were identified that might contain assessment education. It might appear as a part of the methodology of teaching domain-specific subjects, lesson planning, motivation, innovative technologies of teaching, modern teaching and learning techniques. Moreover, the reviewed national level and institutional level documents do not contain explicit assessment knowledge and competencies that pre-service teachers should acquire. However, there are brief and implicit statements about assessment knowledge and competencies could be found throughout the text. It can be seen in the description of requirements to professional competencies, types, objectives and subjects of professional activity. For example, in the description of requirements to professional competencies, it is stated pre-service teachers must know “a theoretical basis for monitoring of children’s preparedness to study at school.” Only documents of subject-level which is syllabuses of Pedagogy, and New Teaching and Learning Technology contain a description of assessment knowledge and theories. However, content analysis of the subject level documents showed that assessment education mainly focuses on providing knowledge in measurement theory, monitoring and controlling function of assessment. Overall, conventional content analysis of documents resulted in the following seven categories: assessment knowledge, diagnostical work, grading policy of the university, holistic pedagogical process, initial teacher education program development, knowledge and skills, and teaching placements. The discussion of these categories and other findings of document analysis will be fully discussed in this paper.
Bullock, S. M. (2011). Inside teacher education: Challenging prior views of teaching and learning. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Springer Science & Business Media.Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative health research, 15(9), 1277-1288. Korthagen, F. A., & Kessels, J. P. (1999). Linking theory and practice: Changing the pedagogy of teacher education. Educational Researcher, 28(4), 4-17. Makhmetova, Zh. (2014). University teachers’ assessment beliefs and practices in Kazakhstan. Unpublished master thesis. Nazarbayev University, Astana. Kazakhstan. Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MESRK). (2010). State Programme for Education Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan 2011-2020, Presidential Decree No. 1118 of 7 December 2010, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana. Tynybayeva, M. (2016). A Grounded Theory Approach to the Study of Classroom Assessment Practices of Teachers in Secondary Schools in Kazakhstan. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan.
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