Thai primary science specialist teachers' thinking about formative assessment

Year: 2017

Author: Saneewong, Sanikan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Formative assessment is a process used by teachers to inform teaching and learning activity and ultimately enhance student learning. Although formative assessment practices aim to support and empower students in their learning, developing and implementing such approaches is often a complex and challenging task for classroom teachers.

In Thailand, the context of this research, formative assessment is a key feature of the education reform and yet, formative assessment practice presents a challenge for teachers because many Thai primary teachers. One reason could be the familiarity of many Thai primary teachers, including generalist teachers and science specialist teachers, with traditional testing methods, such as end of semester tests and multiple choice tests. This familiarity may be related to the high value most teachers appear to place on student ability to memorize information. Currently, the few studies that have been conducted to investigate the practice of formative assessment in Thailand have primarily focussed on the use of student portfolios. None of them have been conducted with science specialist teachers and none have been concerned about teacher thinking. The understanding of teacher thinking is important to experiencing successful implementation of formative assessment.

This study seeks to learn more about how Thai teachers think about assessment and why they assess student learning in particular ways. The study explores the nature of Thai primary science specialist teachers' thinking about formative assessment in a primary science classroom setting. The research involves a quantitative and a qualitative study that will be conducted in two phases. In Phase 1, 500 primary science specialist teachers from all regions of Thailand (northern, eastern, middle, north-eastern, western and southern) will be invited to complete on a 5-point Likert scale questionnaire, consisting of approximately 30 closed questions to develop an understanding of the overall trends regarding teachers' thinking, why they hold these ideas and how they translate their idea into practice about formative assessment. In Phase 2, following a review of this data set, six questionnaire respondents will be invited to participate in a semi-structured interview to gain further insight into their thinking about formative assessment. The use of open-ended questions in semi-structured interview will provide the opportunity to get the certain details but crucial perspectives from the participants that cannot be captured from the close-ended questionnaire. Six interview participants will be identified based on the following three criteria: (1) questionnaire respondents who volunteer to participate in the semi-structured interview, (2) their ideas and implementation experiences of formative assessment and (3) the location of participant.