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The effect of the "lens of the teacher" on teacher summative assessment literacy and practice

Teachers’ summative assessment literacy is vital in the current educational environment in New Zealand, given the importance of teachers’ summative judgements in all levels of compulsory education. Through initial teacher education programmes, and inservice professional development and learning, beginner teachers are able to develop assessment knowledge and skills. However, their practice may not reflect what they have learnt. This paper reports on a qualitative study which aimed to explore the characteristics of summative assessment literacy for secondary beginner teachers, and the contributors to this development. Teachers were interviewed five times over an 18 month period through their initial teacher education programme, and in their first year of employment. The transcripts were analysed by using the model for science teachers’ assessment literacy proposed by Abell and Siegel (2011) as an initial framework. This deductive coding was followed by and merged with subsequent deductive coding as new codes emerged progressively during data analysis. Summative assessment literacy was found to be an amalgam of knowledges and skills that informed the teachers’ assessment decision making. However, teachers’ assessment decisions were not found to necessarily reflect their knowledge. Teacher commentary indicated that personal and contextual factors acted as amplifiers and/or filters as knowledge became personalised and as the teacher decided how to use it. Personal factors included teacher prior knowledge, experience and beliefs about assessment, teaching, learning, and science; beliefs about ethical matters and, emotional responses to assessment. Contextual factors included beginner teachers’ interactions and experiences with influential others, as well as wider influences such as school policy and practice, and national policy. These factors were found to mediate the translation of teacher professional knowledge to classroom practice, affecting assessment decisions, and sometimes leading to surprising outcomes. This study provides an alternative view from which to consider teacher development for those working within the partnerships of teacher education and schools. By understanding the effect of teachers’ amplifiers and filters, those working with beginner teachers may be able to make the ‘lens of the teacher’ more explicit with regard to assessment. This in turn may facilitate summative assessment literacy development and assessment decisions that are more likely to be in accord with the principles of good assessment.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Edwards, F. (2017). The effect of the ‘lens of the teacher’ on teacher summative assessment literacy and practice. Presented at the NZARE 2017 Conference, the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.