Skip to main content

Teachers’ practices in science learning environments and their use of formative and summative assessment tasks

Abstract

This study was aimed at detecting the most frequently-used teaching and assessment activities in secondary school science classes, identifying links between these variables, and revealing possible challenges in these processes. To this end, data were gathered from 155 secondary school science teachers in 56 Israeli public schools and 380 grade eight and nine students from 22 of these using the What Is Happening In this Class? Teachers were also asked to indicate their perceptions of the extent to which they used formative assessment tasks provided by the curriculum and to specify, in their own words, the reason for insufficient usage of these tasks. Task orientation was highly used in science classes, whereas investigation was the least employed activity, according to both teachers’ and students’ perceptions. The most-frequently used tasks to evaluate students were final tests and quizzes. Path model analysis revealed that teachers who tended to use teacher-based approaches also employed traditional assessment tools, whereas teachers who allowed students to cooperate rather than compete with one another tended to use formative assessment tools. Implications limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  • Afari, E., Aldridge, J. M., Fraser, B. J., & Khine, M. S. (2013). Students’ perceptions of the learning environment and attitudes in game-based mathematics classrooms. Learning Environments Research, 16, 131–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alt, D. (2014). Using structural equation modeling and multidimensional scaling to assess students’ perceptions of the learning environment and justice experiences. International Journal of Educational Research, 69, 38–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aud, S., Hussar, W., Kena, G., Bianco, K., Frohlich, L., Kemp, J., & Tahan, K. (2011). The condition of education 2011 (NCES 2011-033, US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

  • Bentler, P. M. (2006). EQS 6 structural equations program manual. Encino, CA: Multivariate Software Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & William, D. (2002). Working inside the black box—Assessment for learning in the classroom. London: GL Assessment.

    Google Scholar 

  • Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & William, D. (2003). Assessment for learning—Putting it into practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blanchard, M. R., Southerland, S. A., & Granger, E. M. (2009). No silver bullet for inquiry: Making sense of teacher change following an inquiry-based research experience for teachers. Science Education, 93, 322–360.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Center for the Advancement of Scientific and Technological Education [CASTE]. (2007). Science and technology for grade 1/grade 4: Teacher’s guide. Ramot, Israel: Tel-Aviv University (Hebrew).

  • Chan, K. W., & Elliott, R. G. (2004). Relational analysis of personal epistemology and conceptions about teaching and learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 817–831.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Che Ahmad, C. N., Osman, K., & Halim, L. (2013). Physical and psychosocial aspects of the learning environment in the science laboratory and their relationship to teacher satisfaction. Learning Environments Research, 16, 367–385.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clark, I. (2012). Formative assessment: Assessment is for self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 24(2), 205–249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20, 37–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohn, S. T., & Fraser, B. J. (2016). Effectiveness of student response systems in terms of learning environment, attitudes and achievement. Learning Environments Research, 19(2), 153–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Creswell, J. W. (2015). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). London: Pearson Education.

    Google Scholar 

  • den Brok, P., Telli, S., Cakiroglu, J., Taconis, R., & Tekkaya, C. (2010). Learning environment profiles of Turkish secondary biology classrooms. Learning Environments Research, 13, 187–204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dorman, J. P. (2003). Cross-national validation of the What Is Happening In this Class questionnaire using confirmatory factor analysis. Learning Environments Research, 6, 231–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dorman, J. P. (2008). Use of multitrait-multimethod modeling to validate actual and preferred forms of the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) questionnaire. Learning Environments Research, 11, 179–193.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ertmer, P. A., & Glazewski, K. D. (2015). Essentials for PBL implementation: Fostering collaboration, transforming roles, and scaffolding learning. In A. Walker, H. Leary, C. E. Hemlo-Silver, & P. A. Ertmer (Eds.), Essential readings in problem-based learning: Exploring and extending the legacy of Howard S. Barrows (pp. 89–106). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Falk, A. (2012). Teachers learning from professional development in elementary science: Reciprocal relations between formative assessment and pedagogical content knowledge. Science Education, 96, 265–290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fives, H., & Buehl, M. M. (2016). Teachers’ beliefs, in the context of policy reform. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3, 114–121.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fraser, B. J., Aldridge, J. M., & Adolphe, F. S. G. (2010). A cross-national study of secondary science classroom environments in Australia and Indonesia. Research in Science Education, 40, 551–571.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fraser, B. J., Fisher, D. L., & McRobbie, C. J. (1996, April). Development, validation and use of personal and class forms of a new classroom environment instrument. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American educational research association. New York.

  • Grant, M. M., & Hill, J. R. (2006). Weighing the rewards with the risks? Implementing student-centered pedagogy within high-stakes testing. In R. Lambert & C. McCarthy (Eds.), Understanding teacher stress in the age of accountability (pp. 19–42). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hazen, R. M., & Trefil, J. (2009). Science matters: Achieving scientific literacy (2nd ed.). New York: Anchor.

    Google Scholar 

  • Herrenkohl, L., & Bevan, R. B. (2017). What science and for whom? An introduction to our focus on equity and out-of-school learning. Science Education, 101, 517–519.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hesse, F., Care, E., Buder, J., Sassenberg, K., & Griffin, P. (2015). A framework for teachable collaborative problem solving skills. In P. Griffin & E. Care (Eds.), Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 35–56). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Barrows, H. S. (2015). Problem-based learning: Goals for learning and strategies for facilitating. In A. Walker, H. Leary, C. E. Hemlo-Silver, & P. A. Ertmer (Eds.), Essential readings in problem-based learning: Exploring and extending the legacy of Howard S. Barrows (pp. 69–84). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Horn, I. S., Nolen, S. B., & Ward, C. J. (2013). Recontextualizing practices: Situative methods for studying the development of motivation, identity and learning in and through multiple contexts over time. In M. Vauras & S. Volet (Eds.), Interpersonal regulation of learning and motivation: Methodological advances. In the new perspectives on learning and instruction series (pp. 189–204). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Israeli Ministry of Education. (2015). Science and technology curriculum in primary and secondary schools. Retrieved from http://cms.education.gov.il/EducationCMS/Units/Tochniyot_Limudim/science_tech/(Hebrew).

  • Järvenoja, H., Järvelä, S., & Malmberg, J. (2015). Understanding the process of motivational, emotional and cognitive regulation in learning situations. Educational Psychologist, 50(3), 204–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Khine, M. S., Fraser, B. J., Afari, E., & Oo, Z., & Kyaw, T. T. (in press). Students’ perceptions of the learning environment in tertiary science classes in Myanmar. Learning Environments Research.

  • Kwan, Y. W., & Wong, A. F. L. (2014). The constructivist classroom learning environment and its associations with critical thinking ability of secondary school students in Liberal Studies. Learning Environment Research, 17, 191–207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lakos, A., & Phipps, S. E. (2004). Creating a culture of assessment: A catalyst for organizational change. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 4(3), 345–361.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lasry, N., Charles, E., & Whittaker, C. (2014). When teacher-centered instructors are assigned to student-centered classrooms. Physical Review Special Topics—Physics Education Research, 10(1), 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lederman, J. S., Lederman, N. G., Bartos, S. A., Bartels, S. L., Meyer, A., & Schwartz, R. S. (2014). Meaningful assessment of learners’ understandings about scientific inquiry—The views about scientific inquiry (VASI) questionnaire. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51, 65–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu, C. J., Zandvliet, D. B., & Hou, I. L. (2012). The learning environment associated with information technology education in Taiwan: Combining psychosocial and physical aspects. Learning Environments Research, 15, 379–402.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacLeod, C., & Fraser, B. J. (2010). Development, validation and application of a modified Arabic translation of the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) questionnaire. Learning Environments Research, 13, 105–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Manny-Ikan, E., & Rosen, D. (2013). Teaching sciences in Israel: Trends, challenges and change levers. Jerusalem: The Henrietta Szold Institute (Hebrew).

    Google Scholar 

  • Merton, R. K. (1968). Social theory and social structure. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards (National committee for science education standards and assessment). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core idea (Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New k-12 Science Education Standards. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from http://www.scimathmn.org/stemtc/sites/default/files/downloads/framework_for_k-12_science_education_final_0.pdf.

  • Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS] Lead States. (2013). The next generation science standards, for states by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/read/18290/chapter/1#ii.

  • OECD/CERI. (2008). International conference: Learning in the 21st century, research, innovation and policy. Assessment for learningFormative assessment. Paris: OECD.

  • Panadero, E., Jonsson, A., & Botella, J. (2017). Effects of self-assessment on self-regulated learning and self-efficacy: Four meta-analyses. Educational Research Review, 22, 74–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Panadero, E., Jonsson, A., & Strijbos, J. W. (2016). Scaffolding self-regulated learning through self-assessment and peer assessment: Guidelines for classroom implementation. In D. Laveault & L. Allal (Eds.), Assessment for learning: Meeting the challenge of implementation (pp. 311–326). Boston, MA: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peffer, M. E., Beckler, M. L., Schunn, C., Renken, M., & Revak, A. (2015). Science classroom inquiry (SCI) simulations: A novel method to scaffold science learning. PLoS ONE, 10(3), e0120638.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Penuel, W. R. (2017). Research-practice partnerships as a strategy for promoting equitable science teaching and learning through leveraging everyday science. Science Education, 101, 520–525.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Savery, J. R. (2015). Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. In A. Walker, H. Leary, C. E. Hemlo-Silver, & P. A. Ertmer (Eds.), Essential readings in problem-based learning: Exploring and extending the legacy of Howard S. Barrows (pp. 5–16). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scalise, K., Timms, M., Moorjani, A., Clark, L., Holtermann, K., & Irvin, P. S. (2011). Student learning in science simulations: Design features that promote learning gains. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(9), 1050–1078.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Scherer, R. (2017). The quest for the Holy Grail of validity in science assessments: A comment on Kampa and Köller (2016) “German national proficiency scales in biology: Internal structure, relations to general cognitive abilities and verbal skills”. Science Education, 101, 845–853.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schraw, G., & Olafson, L. (2002). Knowing, knowledge and beliefs. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scriven, M. (1967). The methodology of evaluation. In R. W. Tyler, R. M. Gagne, & M. Scriven (Eds.), Perspectives of curriculum evaluation (pp. 39–83) (AERA Monograph Series on Curriculum Evaluation, 1). Chicago: Rand McNally.

  • Scriven, M. (1991). Evaluation thesaurus (4th ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sharma, R., Jain, A., Gupta, N., Garg, S., Batta, M., & Dhir, S. K. (2016). Impact of self-assessment by students on their learning. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research, 6, 226–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Silva, E. (2007). On the clock: Rethinking the way schools use time. Washington, DC: Education Sector.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singh, M., & McNeil, J. T. (2014). Do learning environments differ across subjects and nations: Case studies in Hawaii and Singapore using the WIHIC questionnaire. Learning Environments Research, 17, 173–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smetana, L. K., & Bell, R. L. (2012). Computer simulations to support science instruction and learning: A critical review of the literature. International Journal of Science Education, 34(9), 1337–1370.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spector, J. M., Ifenthaler, D., Sampson, D., Yang, L. Y., Mukama, E., Warusavitarana, A., et al. (2016). Technology enhanced formative assessment for 21st century learning. Journal of Educational Technology and Society, 19(3), 58–71.

    Google Scholar 

  • Strauss, A. L. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Taras, M. (2015). Innovative pedagogies series: Innovations in student-centred assessment. Higher Education Academy, York. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/maddalena_taras_final.pdf.

  • Taylor, B. A., & Fraser, B. J. (2013). Relationships between learning environment and mathematics anxiety. Learning Environments Research, 16(2), 297–313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vermunt, J. D., Bronkhorst, L. H., & Martinez-Fernandez, J. R. (2014). The dimensionality of student learning patterns in different cultures. In D. Gijbels, V. Donche, J. T. E. Richardson, & J. D. Vermunt (Eds.), Learning patterns in higher education: Dimensions and research perspectives (pp. 33–55). London and New York: Routledge and EARLI.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watt, H. M. G. (2005). Attitudes to the use of alternative assessment methods in mathematics: A study with secondary mathematics teachers in Sydney, Australia. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 58, 21–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zandvliet, D., & Broekhuizen, A. (2017). Spaces for learning: Development and validation of the School Physical and Campus Environment Survey. Learning Environments Research, 20, 175–187.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dorit Alt.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Alt, D. Teachers’ practices in science learning environments and their use of formative and summative assessment tasks. Learning Environ Res 21, 387–406 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10984-018-9259-z

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10984-018-9259-z

Keywords

  • Formative assessment
  • Science education
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Teaching practices
  • What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC)