Classroom Assessment: Making Space for Diversity

  • Bronwen Cowie


Starting with the Learning in Science Projects in the 1980s, New Zealand science educators have had a strong tradition of considering children’s ideas about and explanations for the natural world. In construing these ideas as ‘children’s science’, this early work took a non-deficit view to student ideas and experiences (Freyberg and Osborne 1982). This orientation is reflected in the early policy and practice focus in New Zealand on formative assessment (Department of Education 1989) and underpinned the Learning in Science Project (Assessment) study. The LISP (Assessment) project (1995–1996) and the later InSiTE (2005–2007) study highlighted that while teachers use a range of planned assessment tasks, much of the most effective formative assessment is embedded in and accomplished through interactions that take place during the course of teaching and learning. Mutual trust and respect were found to play a pivotal role in these interactions, which usually involved a range of modes such as drawing and dramatisation alongside, and in addition to talk. In this chapter I build on this work and draw on the findings of the QTR&D and CRPA studies, which considered culturally responsive pedagogy in primary science classes, to propose that science teaching and assessment needs to be responsive to the broad range of knowledge and experiences that children bring to class. This orientation takes a non-deficit view of children and their communities and the funds of knowledge and experience they have that can contribute to science learning. It also accommodates an expanded view of the outcomes that are important for children’s engagement in and learning of science by considering their developing understanding of the content of science, the conduct of science and the role science plays in children’s lives.


Science Learning Assessment Practice Classroom Assessment Student Idea Community Fund 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The InSiTE and CRP&A projects were funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative. All examples were drawn from the reports and papers listed when the different projects were introduced.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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