Assessment Practices: Empowering Mathematics and Science Teachers in Rural Secondary Schools to Enhance Student Learning

  • Debra PanizzonEmail author
  • John Pegg


Aligned with recent changes to syllabuses in Australia is an assessment regime requiring teachers to identify what their students ‘know’ and ‘can do’ in terms of the quality of understanding demonstrated. This paper describes the experiences of 25 secondary science and mathematics teachers in rural schools in New South Wales as they explore the changing nature of assessment and its implications on their classroom practice. To help reconceptualise these changes, teachers were introduced to a cognitive structural model as a theoretical framework. Throughout the 2-year study, teachers attended a series of professional development sessions and received ongoing consultative support. Each session was taped and transcribed while interviews were conducted with each teacher at the end of both years. Analysis of these data using a grounded theory approach identified seven major components of teacher practice impacted by the study. The core component was questioning while the six contributing components were teachers’ pedagogical practices, attention to cognition, teaching strategies, assessment linked to pedagogy, classroom advantages for students, and classroom advantages for teachers. These findings represent a major shift in teachers’ perceptions of assessment from a focus on the accumulation of students’ marks to one of diagnosis as a means of directing teaching to enhance students’ scientific and mathematical understandings.

Key words

assessment pedagogy professional development SOLO model teachers’ perceptions 


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Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Centre of Science, Information and Communication Technology, and Mathematics, Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR)University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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