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Summative Assessment Practices of Solomon Islands Year Nine Science Teachers

The aim of this exploratory study was to investigate the perceptions, experiences, and practices of six Solomon Islands secondary science teachers, based on the types of assessment they use in their science classrooms to serve a summative purpose. The study was divided into two parts. The first part involved a baseline study which explored the teachers’ existing summative assessment practices with the intent to understand how their views and knowledge of the summative assessments influenced their practices, and to identify their professional learning needs in creating assessment tools. The second part of the study involved a small-scale professional development intervention, which aimed to enhance the science teachers’ skills and confidence in summative assessment as well as to identify the factors that influenced teachers’ development and transfer of new assessment skills to their classroom practices in the Solomon Islands context. The study adopted a qualitative-interpretive research approach and used methods of teacher interviews, participant observation and documentary analysis to generate data related to the teachers’ existing summative assessment practices, and the new or revised processes that they adopted as a result of the professional development intervention. Various analytical procedures including thematic analysis procedures and frameworks that researchers have used previously to study teachers’ classroom practices were employed to analyse the collected data. The findings of the baseline study indicated that the science teachers employed summative assessments to compare students’ ability through grading and reported their students’ achievements to parents and students. The unit test is the dominant form of assessment used by teachers to assess year nine students’ learning, performance and achievements in science. Examinations are administered to students at the end of each school term. An analysis of the test and examination questions indicated that teachers focused on assessing mainly low cognitive skills. Teachers’ views indicated that neither they nor the school leaders have used student achievement results in the past or present time as a basis to review and evaluate their teaching practices or plan ways they might improve student achievement and school performance. The science teachers generally expressed varying levels of satisfaction in their conduct of assessment activities but also perceived the need for professional support in certain areas of assessment such as construction of a test using a test blueprint, grading, analysis and interpretation of student assessment results. The study also identified a range of factors that influenced the six science teachers’ classroom-based summative assessment practices. Factors that tend to have impacted positively on their summative assessment practices include; their initial teacher education experiences, knowledge and beliefs about teaching, learning and assessment, and colleagues in the school. However, the teachers also reported certain contextual factors that impacted negatively on their assessment practices. These included institutional and extracurricular responsibilities, heavy teaching loads, large class size, lack of clear assessment policy guidelines, lack of exemplary assessment resources, and national examination pressures. Findings of the impact of professional development intervention indicated that the teachers made small to moderate changes in their summative assessment practice. Their involvement in the group activities during the professional development workshop made them become more reflective on their assessment practices and also indicated that the professional development activities enhanced their knowledge about alternative assessment strategies, and increased their confidence in carrying out summative assessments in class. However, the existing contextual factors that were identified during the baseline study continued to impede their transfer of new assessment ideas and procedures into their classroom practices.
Type of thesis
Rodie, F. (2014). Summative Assessment Practices of Solomon Islands Year Nine Science Teachers (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8526
University of Waikato
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