Complementary assessments of prospective teachers’ skill with eliciting student thinking

Abstract

As teacher education shifts to focus on teaching beginners to do the work of teaching, assessments need to shift to focus on assessing practice. We focus on one teaching practice, eliciting student thinking, in the context of elementary mathematics. We describe assessments in two contexts (field and simulation). For each assessment, we describe the eliciting of three prospective teachers what could be seen about the skills of group of prospective teachers (N = 44). We report on how three prospective teachers had differing opportunities to demonstrate their skills in the context of the field assessment, but similar opportunities in the context of the simulation assessment. Although both contexts make important contributions, in each case, contributions are counterbalanced are by significant challenges. Although the authors do not argue for one assessment context over the other, they offer insights into the affordances and challenges of each so that teacher educators can make responsible decisions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Learning to elicit and interpret student thinking was an identified goal of the course. The course explicitly taught PSTs to engage in the practice with children and PSTs received feedback on their practice from course instructors prior to the two assessments at the end of the course. In all cases, PSTs engaged in the field-based assessment prior to the simulation assessment but did not receive any feedback on the field-based interview until after the simulation assessment was completed.

  2. 2.

    To learn more about common patterns of student thinking related to comparing fractions, see McNamara and Shaughnessy (2015).

  3. 3.

    The standardized “student” is a mathematics teacher educator. Prior to administering the assessment, the teacher educator participates in a series of training sessions to learn about the student’s way of reasoning and to practice answering questions in ways that are aligned with the student profile.

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Funding

Funding was provided by National Science Foundation (Grant Nos. 1316571, 1502711).

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Correspondence to Meghan Shaughnessy.

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Shaughnessy, M., Boerst, T.A. & Farmer, S.O. Complementary assessments of prospective teachers’ skill with eliciting student thinking. J Math Teacher Educ 22, 607–638 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-018-9402-x

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Keywords

  • Practice-based teacher education
  • Eliciting student thinking
  • Elementary mathematics
  • Assessment of novices’ skills