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“The experiences I give them, that is going to be their opinion” : Formative assessment through dialogue in Technology Education

The purpose of the formative assessment is for the teacher to recognise the student’s learning and guide the student to the next step in their learning. This study focuses on Interactive Formative Assessment (IFA), which is formative assessment through dialogue. IFA through dialogue is especially critical in a subject like Technology Education (TE) where students design and develop products based on a given design brief. As every student is developing something independently, formal whole-class test may not be effective for formative assessment. Formative assessment in TE is carried out mainly through dialogue. However, to participate in a dialogue, the teacher needs to plan open, high-cognitive questions that can encourage dialogue. Technology Observation and Conversation Framework (TOCF) (Fox-Turnbull, 2018) was identified as a framework of high-cognitive questions specially designed for a technology classroom. In this study, the TOCF was modified for use as a formative assessment tool and is called Questioning Framework for Technology - Primary (QFT-P). This study, thus, contributes to the research in formative assessment and dialogue in TE in primary schools - two areas that have limited research to date. This research addresses the research gap in the process of IFA in TE, teacher beliefs and knowledge for conducting IFA, and student learning through participating in the IFA dialogue. In this qualitative, pragmatic, design-based research, the QFT-P was aligned with the New Zealand curriculum and provided to two primary teachers teaching Year 5-6 (ages 9-10). Design-based research has dual aims - implementing a resource in a naturalistic environment and understanding the theory behind the implementation process. In this research, 175 hours of classroom observations and 35 hours of audio-recording of teacher-student dialogue were the main sources of data. Interviews, video-recording,and photographs of classroom artefacts and student work were other sources of data. Teacher’s experiences with using the QFT-P dictated the iterations of the formative assessment tool. The findings showed that the teachers used the QFT-P as a formative assessment tool and were able to have a deep and rich dialogue with the students. Through the dialogue, teachers were able to recognise student learning and guide them to the next step in their learning. Based on analysis of dialogue in the classroom, the existing model of IFA was expanded by the addition of two steps - Student action and Teacher follow-up and conceptualised as a spiral. IFA is recognised to be a complex process due to the teacher managing the spiral for multiple students at the same time. Teachers showed implicit knowledge about TE that they were not always able to translate into teaching TE. Teachers’ beliefs about the importance of student’s voice and teachers’ content knowledge of TE were important to conduct an effective IFA. When participating in IFA, students showed concrete learning in many of the curriculum objectives and teacher’s priority objectives. However, students did not always implement their feedback and it was seen in this study that if the feedback was not implemented within the next lesson, there was a loss of opportunity for the associated learning. This thesis brings new insights in the field of IFA and formative assessment in TE and offers a formative assessment tool in the form of the QFT-P for primary, technology teachers.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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