Closing the gap: Using a needs-based professional development program to enhance pre-service teachers’ assessment for learning literacy

Year: 2018

Author: Zin Oo, Cherry, Davison, Chris, Alonzo, Dennis

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A range of literature provides both theoretical and empirical support for the necessity of teachers’ assessment for learning (AfL) literacy as a critical component of effective teaching (Alonzo, 2016; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Davison, 2013; Hattie, 2008; Hounsell, McCune, Hounsell, & Litjens, 2008). However, very little attention has been paid to pre-service teachers (PSTs) assessment for learning (AfL) literacy despite research evidence showing that initial teacher preparation is problematic (BOSTES, 2016; Chesley & Jordan, 2012; Grainger & Adie, 2014; Greenberg & Walsh, 2012; James & Pedder, 2006; Ogan-Bekiroglu & Suzuk, 2014; Siegel & Wissehr, 2011)and PSTs AfL literacy remains relatively low. This is due to insufficient teacher preparation with most teacher education curricula demonstrating limited attention to assessment, particular assessment for learning (AfL). To address this gap, this study explores the impact of a professional development (PD) program on improving PSTs AfL literacy, and to what extent and how student teachers were then able to use AfL literacy in their practicum. Using a design-based research (DBR) approach (Reeves, 2006), an AfL professional development (PD) program was developed through the analysis of PSTs needs, and sharing and reflection used at the beginning of each workshop. A total of 335 PSTs, involving 30 PSTs in the intervention group and 305 PSTs in the cohort group, were asked to self-assess their AfL literacy before and after the program through a survey (Loc, 2016). Findings revealed that there was an intervention effect (PD program) on their overall PSTs AfL literacy, particularly in the following areas: belief and understanding of AfL; confidence in planning assessment; confidence in conducting assessment; and confidence in using assessment data. In addition, the results indicate that the time and the length of teaching experiences had an effect on the area of confidence in using assessment data. Further analyses of semi-structured individual interviews with the intervention group before and after their practicum and the data collected during their practicum, including their lesson plans, observation checklists, and audiotapes, are being carried out to explore what helps student teachers improve their AfL literacy in the practicum. Implications of the results for redesigning and utilizing PSTs professional development program, and more broadly for integrating AfL in the practicum experiences for PSTs will be discussed.