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How teachers experience assessment tension and its effect on formative assessment practices


Formative assessment (FA) has been a popular discourse in education, but its potential benefit is fundamentally dependent on teachers’ willingness to make changes to their classroom practices. These changes bring about much assessment tension (AT). This paper argues that how well teachers experience and manage AT determines the efficacy of their FA practices. Past studies have warned that AT experienced by teachers is complex and problematic. Therefore, it would be useful to investigate the variation of AT experienced by teachers, and how well they are dealing with these tensions. This phenomenographic research examines the use of FA in the context of different ways that AT is experienced. Findings on teachers’ conceptions of AT are presented, and each is then discussed for insights into teachers’ meanings and practices of assessment. In particular, instances of how AT hindered or helped FA are identified to highlight more productive ways of understanding and using assessment to support students’ learning. Implications of the research findings for the Singapore Teaching Practice (STP) will be discussed.

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Chan, K.T., Tan, K. How teachers experience assessment tension and its effect on formative assessment practices. Educ Res Policy Prac (2022).

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  • Formative assessment
  • Assessment tension
  • Phenomenography
  • Chinese language