Formalising classroom-based assessment in post-primary physical education in Ireland: A new concept for physical education teachers

Year: 2019

Author: Walsh, Claire

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background: The introduction of a relatively new curriculum in 2015 in Ireland called the ‘Junior Cycle Framework’ (2015) comprises an element of continuous assessment in all subjects.The introduction of a dual approach to assessment in the Framework reduces the focus on an externally assessed examination as a means of assessing students and gives increased prominence to classroom-based and formative assessments. Classroom-based assessments (CBAs) allow students to demonstrate their understanding of concepts and skills and their ability to apply them in ways that may not be possible in an externally assessed examination. Another aspect of the Framework that directly impacts school physical education in Ireland is the introduction of Wellbeing as a new area of learning in which physical education now resides. Physical education is now required to provide evidence on the extent to which students are supported to make positive responsible decisions relating to their health and wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. Schools are required to report on students’ achievement in Wellbeing and a CBA in physical education is one way of providing such evidence.

Research design: This presentation draws on the author’s experience of negotiating such assessment changes as a physical education teacher, a professional development provider, a teacher educator and a researcher. Using auto ethnography as the methodological framework, she explores what she brings to the assessment context and what she takes from it.

Findings and discussion: Initial findings suggest that occupying a number of roles as a ‘boundary spanner’ can inform both initial teacher education (ITE) programmes and professional development delivery with respect to assessment practices. Through her involvement across a number of roles, the presenting author will share how the knowledge and insights she has acquired in these respective roles informs the process by which a physical education teacher education programme considers, enacts and advocates for recent and current school physical education assessment developments.

Implications: There is a need to embed nationally-supported and required assessment practices in initial teacher education programmes in order for pre-service teachers to be prepared to engage and deliver CBAs when teaching school physical education.