Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Ronald G. Good

Abstract

Classroom assessment practices of middle school science teachers were identified and the influence of national and state science standards on these practices was examined. In Phase I of this study a mail questionnaire was sent to 450 middle school (grades 5,6,7 and 8) science teachers in 17 parishes in Louisiana to obtain information about their classroom assessment practices. In Phase II, nine middle school teachers in eight departmentalized classrooms, two classes at each grade, participated in a qualitative study. Data were collected through questionnaires, classroom observations, interviews and document analysis. Data analysis revealed three major categories of classroom assessment targets: (a) student achievement, (b) student attitudes and, (c) student products. Results indicated that most teachers are using different assessment methods when assessing different achievement targets, as recommended by science reform documents. It was also determined that many teachers are using appropriate methods to assess student learning. While teachers reported that students spend an inordinate amount of time engaged in assessment activities, classroom observations suggested that the activities were not always written tests or graded activities. Another key finding is that there is a disconnect between the quality of teaching and the quality of assessment. Teachers who teach the material recommended by science reform documents and use recommended instructional strategies were observed to stop teaching and engage students in a "test rehearsal" geared towards rote memorization of factual information. Data suggest that the national and state science content standards are influencing the content and the format of teacher-made tests. Teachers' reported using the standards during assessment construction or selection in a wide variety of ways. The most direct use of the standards reported was to select content, format and cognitive level for test items. A more circumspect approach used by teachers was to use the standards to write lesson plans and objectives and then to plan assessments based on these teacher-constructed objectives. Questionnaire data indicated that the three factors having the most influence on teachers' selection or construction of a particular type of assessment were: (a) how students learn, (b) alignment with state/district standards, and (c) purpose for assessment.

ISBN

9780493329352

Pages

256

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