The enactment of assessment for learning in the teaching of primary physical education in Ireland

Year: 2019

Author: Macken, Suzy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background: Recent research surrounding the enactment of assessment in primary schools in Ireland has found that primary teachers display a degree of uncertainty and clarity around the purpose of assessment and how to implement assessment in a way that leads to optimum benefits for teaching and learning. Furthermore , research on primary pre-service teachers’ and teachers’ enactment of assessment practices, in particular assessment for learning (AfL), has shown low levels of assessment literacy in the teaching of physical education.

Research design: This presentation focuses on the pre-service teachers’ assessment literacy in the enactment of AfL in the teaching of primary physical education and revisiting such enactment one year after becoming a primary teacher. This study employed a longitudinal action research approach where data was generated using field notes from participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and pre-service teacher reflective journals. In addition, an overview of recent research on primary teachers’ comprehension and application of AfL in primary physical education will be provided.

Findings and Discussion: The findings highlight the impact of the cognitive apprenticeship components of modelling, mentoring, and scaffolding on pre-service teachers’ assessment literacy. Advancements were observed in four out of the five pre-service teachers who engaged in all opportunities available for cognitive apprenticeship to be employed. Furthermore, findings indicate that pre-service teachers benefitted from the use of cognitive apprenticeship when it was employed with primary school students than when enacted with their peers. The study highlights the structure that embedded AfL practices has provided for the pre-service teachers in their teaching of physical education, although enacting AfL in particular physical education strands/activities remains a challenge for the pre-service teachers.

Implications: The levels of assessment literacy displayed throughout this study highlight the importance of including experiences in initial teacher education programmes that allow for cognitive apprenticeship to be employed that supports pre-service teachers’ enactment of AfL prior to the school placement components of their programme.