EDP323 Professional Studies and Evaluating Learning
Assessment 1: Professional Teacher Assessment Identity Statement
UC: Ann Sumich
Tutor: Ann Sumich
The relationship of assessment to teaching and learning
Assessment provides measures for teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of their practices, monitor students’ progress, grade students and make future plans (Marsh, 2010). Assessment not only helps teachers to track students’ development but also provides students with means to reflect on their learning themselves. When students see their performance against specific learning goals, they become more capable of evaluating their own learning and their awareness of their learning needs increases (Readman and Allen, 2013). In fact, frequent assessment feedback has proven to be effective in helping low attaining students and students with learning disabilities to enhance their learning (Black and William ,2001)
One of the fundamental goals of assessment is to ensure that students are understanding and applying what they are learning, and that cannot be thoroughly confirmed without appropriate summative assessment practices. On the other hand, assessment can also be implemented throughout the teaching and learning process to clarify student understanding and inform teacher instruction. This type of assessment can be referred to as ‘assessment for learning’ and is considered as one type of formative assessment (Butt, 2010). It improves the quality of what students learn, helps teachers to adjust and modify teaching materials and, therefore, enhances student academic achievement (Butt, 2010).
I believe that the coherence in changing assessment practices are strongly linked to the learning theories. For example, instructional scaffolding is considered to be the basis of many current assessment practices (Readman and Allen, 2013). Breaking down the task into smaller steps and repeating those steps will allow students to gradually achieve greater independence, which can be fundamental to implementing assessment techniques. This only proves what Readman and Allen suggested about the role behaviourism plays in understanding how certain practices such as repetition of skills, rote learning and memorisation tasks that students can be rewarded for can effectively reinforce the desired behaviour, improving student achievement and assessment results (2013).
Assessment for learning, also referred to as ‘formative assessment’, is one of the processes that make teachers’ instructional methods more effective. This type of assessment occurs throughout the teaching and learning process and involves teachers gathering evidence and using inferences of students’ learning to clarify learning and to inform their own practices (Black and William, 2001). In contrast to summative assessment, formative assessment tends to enhance both students and teachers’ performance because it aims at stimulating constant adjustments in instructional programs or in students’ current learning techniques (Popham, 2009).
Reflecting back to my last practicum placement, this type of assessment was an essential part of every lesson. I used different assessment types and strategies to adapt my instruction and make modifications based on results. Formative assessment has proven to be an effective tool to motivate and engage students (Readman and Allen, 2013). Based on this view, I believe that ‘assessment as learning’ where students monitor their own learning is an added benefit of formative assessment practices as this type of assessment allows students to take responsibility for their learning and decide what they know and can do, giving them the opportunity to create their own learning goals (Black and William, 2001) allowing them to develop critical thinking and decision-making skills.
Formative assessment results can be communicated to students through feedback; oral and less formal feedback during a task or written and more formal after a task (Department of Education and Communities, 2015). Feedback provides valuable information about students’ learning that also can be used to make future plans or propose changes to already existed ones. Feedback should address students’ level of achievement and overall learning performance. This can be implemented through a variety of methods such as observation, verbal explanation, practical demonstration, multiple-choice tests and student portfolios (Westwood, 2013).
Unlike negative or corrective feedback that has a counterproductive effect on students, detailed constructive criticism feedback works best in motivating students and help them track their learning progress (Butt, 2010). I strongly agree with this view as I have seen the effects of positive feedback on students and the empowering effect it gave them as they knew what went wrong and what was needed to do next. I also agree with Readman and Allen (2013) in that feedback should be provided to students before the learning experience in a process called ‘feed-forward’ where students are given important information at the beginning of the unit to prepare for future learning.
The increased complexity in assessment forms calls for new methods of reporting principles including providing timely, clear and explicit feedback that are supported by data with formal assessment and reporting to occur once per semester in most Australian states and territories (Marsh, 2010). Teachers can choose from various methods to maintain records of students’ learning. This includes computer records and files, profiles, checklists (Marsh, 2010) and students’ record-keeping charts to organise and track required tasks (Whitton, Barker, Nosworthy, Humphries & Sinclair, 2016). I can relate to many of these methods as I have previously used marking to get information about students’ understanding or skill acquisition.
Assessment can help students to learn and try their best. Initially, this learning should be based on assumptions from a particular perspective. For example, Readman and Allen (2013) suggest that assessing students on the assumption that learners actively construct new ideas through collaborative activities and dialogue may be best achieved through collaborative and cooperative tasks that involve shared ideas and student involvement. In this instance, peer feedback will be encouraged through fostering interactive environments that support sharing ideas (Readman and Allen, 2013), providing students with the opportunity to see other students’ work which can deepen understanding of the learning goals (Department of Education and Communities, 2015).
My identity in relation to assessment
Having clear views about the purpose of assessment and the most effective strategies to adopt is a necessity in the profession (Butt, 2010). I believe that assessment should be implemented using criteria to clarify learning outcomes and to provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their learning against standards in that criteria to help them reflect on their learning. I would use authentic assessment tasks which are related to real-life situations. This type of assessment is considered engaging and motivating in their nature because it helps students to see how their learning is applied in content and fosters their productive (Readman and Allen, 2013). I believe that the first step in designing an authentic assessment is to reflect on own practices and question their validity against other practices adopted by professionals in my profession. This, however, requires being collegial, which is a key element of teacher professionalism (Waring, 2015). Teachers then need to have shared responsibilities and equal considerations with colleagues and others interested in making a difference in their environment (Readman and Allen, 2013).
My identity in relation to assessment is based on the notion that assessment tasks and expectations should be reliable and in line with syllable outcomes. I also believe that assessment is a continuous process that should not be confined to standardised tests at the end of the term that merely assess specific facts and concepts. Assessment should also be inclusive and accessible to all students (NSW Education Standards Authority, n. d.). I also suggest that teacher’s decisions and orientations should be based on Readman and Allen’s five ‘non- negotiables’; feedback, transparency, alignment, authenticity and student engagement (Readman and Allen, 2013). When making decisions, teachers should rely on objective obligations such as school rules and codes of conduct and should not rely merely on personal values, beliefs and opinions (Howell, 2014).
In relation to my personal values as an assessor, fair assessment is one of my top priorities due to its role in helping students to develop a healthy attitude towards assessment (Readman and Allen, 2013). Fairness can be manifested through student involvement, emotional support, teacher availability and providing clear expectations and justified examinations (Readman and Allen, 2013). Moreover, fostering an inclusive environment where diversity is treated positively can have a great impact on assessment outcomes. Accommodating differences in gender, for example, can strengthen classroom interaction and enhance learning opportunities (Cooper and Iles, 2010). For instance, the difference in gross motor skills between boys and girls can be catered for by avoiding scheduling activities that require too much handwriting (Whitton et al., 2016).
Cultural differences can create a gap in assessment. This gap is a result of the difference between assessment expectations and the expectation that the student’s parents they hold for their child (Duchesne, 2013). I believe that being aware of students’ cultural identities will help teachers to close the gap and enhance learning for all students because being aware of the students in the class is part of effective teaching (Whitton, 2010). Teachers should also consider the appropriate methods for evaluating EAL/D students. Current research found that nearly half teachers used mainstream English assessment standards to report the progress of EAL/D students (de Courcy, 2014). In fact, this translates into lack of awareness of EAL/D student needs which can further complicate the process of assessment of these students as shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1- The gap in assessment practices for EAL/D students- Adapted from ‘Linguistic and Cultural Diversity’ (de Courcy, 2014)
Assessment disappointment and discouragement should also be looked at by teachers to try and find ways to reduce their impact on student achievement. Personally, I would try to avoid punishment and be more constructive to minimise the negative effect of unsatisfactory results. I am also totally convinced with Readman and Allen’s ideas about students’ self-theories and their views about themselves. Understanding students’ self-theories and individual differences can positively affect assessment practices and enhance its effectiveness (Readman and Allen, 2013). On the other hand, latest research found that some positive practices can have a negative effect when used excessively. For example, excessive praise can lead to delusion and dissatisfaction because it can suppress the student’s sense of reality (Department of Education and Communities, 2015).
How ‘assessment literate’ am I?
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL) suggests that graduate teachers should have the skills required to plan, teach, assess and report learning. They need to work towards achieving those standards to improve their practice. In this paper, the standard used here is ‘Standard 5’. This standard addresses assessment; it informs teachers of what is expected of them as educators. Teachers according to this standard are expected to have the ability to assess students’ learning, provide feedback, make consistent and comparable judgments, interpret student data and report on student achievement (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2017). I agree with Popham (2009) in that teachers become increasingly ‘assessment literate’ as they familiarize themselves with assessment standards related to the learning process.
Upon the completion of the self-assessment rating sheet (See appendix 1), I realised that I have gained an adequate understanding of the assessment practices in terms of understanding assessment strategies, goals, and practices and the purpose of providing timely and appropriate feedback to students using a wide range of reporting strategies. I am also aware of the importance of keeping reliable records of student achievement and feel confident in my capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.
On the other hand, I believe that I still need to work on developing necessary skills needed for implementing effective assessment moderations, that is, making consistent, valid, evidence-based decisions in relation to assessment and share my expectations about the types and quality of students’ work that will provide evidence of their achievement against the standards. For this, I would need to improve my ability to make consistent and sustainable judgements about student achievement. In my next practicum placement, I will try to be engaged in moderation to improve my understanding of the learning intentions and the success criteria by which student achievement will be measured. As a long-term goal, I will work towards achieving an understanding of the qualities of student work expected at different learning stages.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]. (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards
Black, P. & William, D. (2001). Inside the Black Box. Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment. King’s College London School of Education. Retrieved from http://electronicportfolios.org/afl/InsideBlackBox.pdf
Butt, G. (2010). Making assessment matter. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/reader.action?docID=601664&query=
Cooper, M. & Iles, L. (2010). Gender and diversity in the classroom. In M. Hyde, Mervyn (ed. et al), Diversity and inclusion in Australian schools (pp 88-115). Retrieved from https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/ereserve/DC60271200/0?display=1
de Courcy, M. (2014). Linguistic and cultural diversity. In M. Hyde (ed. et al), Diversity inclusion & engagement (pp 41-65). Retrieved from https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/ereserve/DC60271201/0?display=1
Department of Education and Communities (2015). Types of feedback. Strong start, Great teachers — Phase 3. Retrieved from http://www.ssgt.nsw.edu.au/documents/1types_feedback.pdf
Duchesne, S. (2013). Sociocultural factors in the learning process. In S. Duchesne, S. Bochner, A. McMaugh (EDs.), Educational psychology : for learning and teaching (pp 376-425). Retrieved from https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/ereserve/DC60271036/0?display=1
Howell, J. (2014). The ethical practitioner. In J. Howell, Teaching & Learning : building effective pedagogies (pp 494-524). Retrieved from https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/ereserve/DC60271034/0?display=1
Marsh, C. (2010). Becoming a teacher. Frenshs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.
NSW Education Standards Authority [NESA]. (n. d.). Assessment for, as and of learning. Retrieved from https://syllabus.nesa.nsw.edu.au/support-materials/assessment-for-as-and-of-learning/
Popham, W. J. (2009). Making sense of teacher professionalism. Theory into Practice, 48, 4–11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00405840802577536
Readman, K., & Allen, B. (2013). Practical planning and assessment. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press
Waring, M. (2015). Making sense of teacher professionalism. Understanding pedagogy: developing a critical approach to teaching and learning. Retrieved from https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/ereserve/DC60271035/0?display=1
Westwood, P. (2013). Inclusive and adaptive teaching: Meeting the challenge of diversity in the classroom. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/reader.action?docID=1108513&query=
Whitton, D. (2010). Teacher Work.. In D. Whitton, K. Barker, M. Nosworthy, J. Humphries & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Learning for teaching, teaching for learning (pp. 26-44). Retrieved from https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/ereserve/DC60271033/0?display=1
Appendix 1- AITSL Graduate Standard 5
|Standard five title:
Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
|5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||❎|
|5.2 Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of providing timely and appropriate feedback to students about their learning.||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||❎|
|5.3 Demonstrate understanding of assessment moderation and its application to support consistent and comparable judgements of student learning.||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||❎||☐||☐||☐|
|5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||❎|
|5.5 Demonstrate understanding of a range of strategies for reporting to students and parents/carers and the purpose of keeping accurate and reliable records of student achievement.||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||☐||❎|
Self-assessment of professional teacher standard 5