09 SES 09 B, Challenges in Educational Assessments (I)
Parallel Paper Session
« All assessment in the context of education involves making decisions about what is relevant evidence for a particular purpose, how to collect the evidence, how to interpret it and how to communicate it to intended users » (Harlen, 2005, p. 2007). The research presented here focuses on one of these fundamental components of the classroom-based assessment practices: the teachers’ judgmentsand interpretations of assessment data, particularly in summative assessments.
A lot of research has been done on the assessment instrumentation: standards, objectives, criteria of assessment, kind of items, etc. Far less studies have been accomplished on the subject of “judgment in practice”, where the teacher is marking the student’s work in his professional context. In Queensland (Australia), Wyatt-Smith, Klenowski and Gunn (2011) highlight the centrality of teachers’ judgment practice in order to achieve coherence between classroom assessment and system-level accountability. These authors quote Sadler (1998) who describes three elements which define teacher’s judgment of student’s work: the teacher (1) attending to the learner’s production; (2) appraising this against some background, or reference framework; and (3) making an explicit response (p. 60). Wyatt-Smith et al. stress the variations among teachers and the resources used by the teachers during their interpretative judgments.
In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the context of our research, new curriculum materials were introduced in primary school:
- a new learning plan for all school subjects taught in compulsory school (Plan d’étude romand, PER)
- teaching materials that promote: (1) “Problem solving activities” in Mathematics education (Moyens d’enseignement romands des mathématiques, MERM), and (2) a cross-curriculum approach for the teaching of French (Mon manuel de français, MMF).
In the canton of Geneva, the Department of Education recommends that teachers use two kinds of items in their summative tests:
- Specific tasks, in order to assess the students’ ability to memorize and to apply procedures that were learned in previous courses;
- Complex tasks, in order to assess students’ capacity to mobilize and combine different knowledge and skills in “non-routine” situations.
Each teacher - or school-based teams of teachers - has the responsibility to “apply” these recommendations with respect to the new curriculum materials (PER, MERM, MMF). Teachers are supported by continuing training structures.
Our research questions are the following:
- What are the interpretative processes that teachers mobilize during their assessment of complex and specific tasks in Mathematics (particularly when solving additive problems) and in French (particularly when writing an argumentative text)?
- What kind of resources do the teachers need to assess complex tasks? (use of curriculum materials, support of prior experience, knowledge of student’s characteristics, activities conducted in the classroom,...)
- How do the teachers face a dilemma in summative assessment?
-To what extent a professional judgment (as defined by Laveault, 2008, and by Allal & Mottier Lopez, 2008) is manifested when the teachers face assessment dilemmas?
- On what aspects does this professional judgment operate?
Allal, L. & Mottier Lopez, L. (2008). Mieux comprendre le jugement professionnel en évaluation: apports et implications de l’étude genevoise. In L. Lafortune & L. Allal (Ed.), Jugement professionnel en évaluation : pratiques enseignantes au Québec et à Genève (pp. 223-239). Québec : Presses de l’Université du Québec. Charters, E. (2003). The use of think-aloud methods in qualitative research: An introduction to think-aloud methods. Brock Education, 12(2), 68-82. Harlen, W. (2005). Teachers’ summative practices and assessment for learning – tensions and synergies. The Curriculum Journal, 16 (2), 207-223. Laveault, D. (2008). Le jugement professionnel d’évaluation scolaire: enjeux, tensions et synergies nouvelles. Revue suisse des sciences de l’éducation, 30 (3), 483-500. Maxwell, G. 2002. Moderation of teacher judgements in student assessment. Discussion paper. Brisbane: Queensland School Curriculum Council. Rey, B., Carette, V., Defrance, A. & Kahn, S. (2003). Les compétences à l'école. Apprentissage et évaluation. Bruxelles: De Boeck. Wyatt-Smith, C. , Klenowski, V. & Gunn, S. (2010).The centrality of teachers' judgement practice in assessment: a study of standards in moderation. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 17 (1),59 -75.
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