Embedding Assessment Within Primary School Science: A Case Study
The reluctance of primary school teachers to teach science in their classrooms is well documented with issues such as limited science content knowledge and low levels of confidence in teaching the subject matter cited as key deterrents. The barriers posed by these issues often result in primary school teachers implementing occasional science lessons that pique their students’ interest, but not extending these lessons to promote the development of strong conceptual understandings or monitoring what learning has occurred. However, this is not the case in all primary school classrooms. This chapter documents the approach used by one teacher, Lisa, to create a coherent set of science learning experiences to meet the learning needs of her students as well as piquing their interest. This case study focuses on her use of assessment. Through embedding assessment into her science teaching and learning approaches, Lisa was able to monitor the development of her students’ science ideas, use evidence gathered from her students to inform her own practice and engage her students in assessment as part of their learning experience rather than the much more common approach of treating assessment as an additional or separate process. As Lisa’s story unfolds over the chapter, the significant role that assessment can play in developing and strengthening science teaching and learning in primary classrooms is highlighted.
KeywordsScience Teaching Conceptual Understanding Formative Assessment Primary School Teacher Summative Assessment
- Australian Academy of Science. (2007). Primary connections: Spinning in space. Canberra: Australian Academy of Science.Google Scholar
- Baird, J. R. (1990). Metacognition, purposeful inquiry and conceptual change. In E. Hegarty-Hazel (Ed.), The student laboratory and the science curriculum (pp. 183–200). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2003). Assessment for learning: Putting it into practice. Maidenhead: Open University.Google Scholar
- Boston, C. (2002). The concept of formative assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 8(9). http://PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=8&n=9. Accessed 19 Oct 2011.
- Bybee, R. W. (1997). Achieving scientific literacy: From purposes to practices. Portsmouth: Heinemann.Google Scholar
- Cowie, B. (2002). Re-viewing conceptual change through a formative assessment lens. In R. K. Coll (Ed.), Science and technology education research papers (pp. 164–179). Hamilton: Centre of Science and Technology Education Research, University of Waikato.Google Scholar
- Cowie, B., & Bell, B. (1999). A model of formative assessment in science education. Assessment in Education, 6(1), 101–116.Google Scholar
- Fensham, P. J., Gunstone, R. F., & White, R. T. (Eds.). (1994). The content of science: A constructivist approach to its teaching and learning. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
- Fitzgerald, A. (2010). Beliefs, knowledge and practices of effective primary science teachers. Unpublished thesis, Edith Cowan University, Perth.Google Scholar
- Garrison, C., Chandler, D., & Ehringhaus, M. (2009). Effective classroom assessment: Linking assessment with instruction. Westerville: National Middle School Association.Google Scholar
- Gunstone, R. F. (1994). The importance of specific science content in the enhancement of metacognition. In P. J. Fensham, R. F. Guinstone, & R. T. White (Eds.), The content of science: A constructivist approach to its teaching and learning (pp. 131–146). London: Falmer.Google Scholar
- Hackling, M. W., & Prain, V. (2005). Primary connections: Stage 2 research report. Canberra: Australian Academy of Science.Google Scholar
- National Center for Fair and Open Testing. (1999). The value of formative assessment. http://www.fairtest.org/examarts/winter99/k-forma3.html. Accessed 19 Oct 2011.
- Scott, P. H., Asoko, H. M., & Driver, R. (1992). Teaching for conceptual change: A review of strategies. In R. Duit, F. Goldberg, & H. Niedderer (Eds.), Research in physics learning: Theoretical issues and empirical studies (pp. 310–329). Kiel: IPN.Google Scholar
- Scottish Qualifications Authority. (2009). Guide to assessment. http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/files_ccc/GuideToAssessment.pdf. Accessed 19 Oct 2011.
- Skamp, K. (Ed.). (2008). Teaching primary science constructively (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Cengage Learning.Google Scholar