10 SES 08 B, Research on Programmes and Pedagogical Approaches in Teacher Education
Views about different assessment systems used throughout the world are diverse and continually evolving, shaped by shifts in the forms of assessment: from exam-dominated systems to school-based assessment; from norm-referenced to criterion-referenced assessment; and from assessment of learning (AoL) to assessment for learning (AfL). As a result, the role of teachers and the conceptualization of their assessment literacy has shifted. However, the level of teacher AfL literacy remains relatively low (Davison & Michell, 2014; Malone, 2013; Popham, 2009). This is particularly the case in Myanmar, where this study takes place, as teachers do not use peer tutoring or self-assessment, their feedback practices are very teacher centre, and they do not seem to know how to build pupils’ answers into subsequent questions (Hardman, Stoff, Aung, & Elliott, 2016). As a result, assessment is still not integrated into classroom teaching.
A range of literature provides both theoretical and empirical support for the necessity of teacher AfL literacy as a critical component in effective teaching (Alonzo, 2016; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Hattie, 2008). However, in terms of teacher preparation, internationally, pre-service teachers (PSTs) are not thought to be well prepared to use appropriate AfL strategies to support pupil learning (Siegel & Wissehr, 2011; Volante & Fazio, 2007). PSTs do not seem to have enough theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. Many argue that they lack the necessary assessment components in PSTs education (DeLuca & Volante, 2016; James & Pedder, 2006; Siegel & Wissehr, 2011; Stiggins, 1999), and little attention is given to PSTs’ actual classroom assessment of their pupils. Without practice in real classrooms, PSTs are likely to “replicate more traditional, unexamined assessment practices” (Graham, 2005, p. 619). PSTs need opportunities to integrate theory and practice to improve their assessment practices (Davison, 2015).
However, practical use of assessment in a real classroom is problematic for PSTs (Jiang, 2015)as they have complex and unexpected ways of influencing factors in their practice settings. Data from several sources have identified more than one influencing factor in PSTs’ practical application of assessment in a real classroom (Hill & Eyers, 2016; Jiang, 2015; Richardson & Placier, 2001). Therefore, the assessment capability of PSTs, supervising teachers, school leaders, and pupils are needed (Absolum, Flockton, Hattie, Hipkins, & Reid, 2009).
To address these gaps, this study investigates the ways in which teacher education can support PSTs to develop their AfL literacy through professional training before their practicum. Guiding this research are the following questions:
RQ 1. What impact, if any, does a needs-based professional learning intervention have on PSTs AfL literacy and how?
RQ 2. To what extent can PSTs change their assessment practice during practicum?
A design-based research (DBR) approach was used to investigate how PSTs in Myanmar improve their AfL literacy. As DBR is an interventionist and iterative approach, a series of methods or approaches were included depends on the research questions. The participants in this study are pre-service teachers (PSTs) from one of the universities of Education (UoE) in Myanmar. Before the data collection process, the ethics approval was gained from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Ethics Committee and the written permission was gained from the Head of the participating university, Myanmar. The non-probability population sampling method was used due to the voluntary nature of participation. First, a total of 335 PSTs, involving 30 PSTs in the intervention group and 305 PSTs in the cohort group, were asked to self-assess their AfL literacy through a survey (Loc, 2016). The survey used in this study has a high internal consistency, with a Cronbach’s alpha index of 0.83. This result is slightly lower compared to Loc’s study (0.85), but the reliability coefficient is still above the acceptable value of 0.80. There are five main sub-constructs in a survey: beliefs and understanding of AfL; confidence in planning assessment; confidence in conducting assessment; confidence in using assessment data; and adherence to ethical issues in assessment. Next, based on the analysis results of the pre-survey, a PD AfL literacy program was developed. The program including AfL strategies was provided to the intervention group (30 PSTs) who responded to the recruitment. Then, they implemented these AfL strategies, provided in the program, in their practicum. In order to explore the practical experiences of PSTs AfL literacy how they implement these strategies and how they improve their assessment practices during their practicum, semi-structured individual interviews before and after their practicum and the practicum data including their lesson plans, observation checklists, and audiotapes, were conducted. Last, the post-survey was conducted to the same participants (a total of 335 PSTs) to explore the changes of their AfL literacy.
RQ 1: What impact, if any, does a needs-based professional learning intervention have on PSTs AfL literacy and how? In order to answer this research question, the analysis of pre-survey and post-survey of PSTs AfL literacy was conducted using repeated measures MANOVA. Findings revealed that there was an intervention effect (PD program) on their overall PSTs AfL literacy indicating the importance of a PD program in building PSTs AfL literacy before their professional experience. Moreover, this program demonstrates a significant effect on four sub-constructs of PSTs AfL literacy: belief and understanding of AfL; confidence in planning assessment; confidence in conducting assessment; and confidence in using assessment data. In general, this part highlights the empirical evidence of the PD program which can be used to design a more needs-based PD program in initial teacher education. RQ 2: To what extent can PSTs change their assessment practice during practicum? In order to answer this research question, an in-depth interview with PSTs in the intervention group and the data collected during their practicum allowed us to understand how PSTs develop and implement their AfL literacy in classroom practice. The qualitative results through the thematic analysis indicated that other factors, supervising teachers, pupils’ responses, the physical context, and the personal effort of PSTs influenced PSTs’ assessment practices in the real classroom. The changes of theoretical knowledge in PSTs’ AfL literacy after the program also influenced assessment practice in practicum or vice versa. Therefore, this suggests potentially a bidirectional relationship, that higher AfL literacy helps develop better practice but more opportunities for supported practices develops AfL literacy. Implications of the results for redesigning and utilizing the PD program, and more broadly for integrating AfL in practicum experiences of PSTs will be discussed.
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