Teacher formative assessment : influences and practice case study research at the year one level
This case study research investigated the formative assessment practices of four Year One teachers in one local education authority, and the influences which have shaped their skills. School-level contextual factors such as the role of colleagues, the head teacher, and experience in the classroom were investigated through interview and questionnaire. External influences on teacher practice, most specifically the influence of the National Curriculum and its assessment requirements, were also examined. The findings identified experience in the classroom and colleagues as key sources of influence on practice. The study reviewed the current understanding of formative assessment from social-constructivist perspective on learning. Research has illustrated specific elements of formative assessment practice, including the development of learning goals, communicating criteria, feedback, and the role of discourse. In this research, questioning emerged as a vital formative assessment skill. Underpinning the practice of the teachers who demonstrated the widest range of strategies were three key features. These teachers were reflective about their own daily practice, and demonstrated a problem-solving approach to teaching and learning. Lastly, they had established a collegial relationship of shared power in which pupil and teacher thinking processes and ideas could be expressed and exchanged. Theory has pointed to formative assessment as a teacher practice embedded in planning, teaching and assessing. Case study data were analysed to describe the practices of the teachers and to understand the ways in which formative assessment strategies might be linked together. A model of integrated practice is developed from the analysis, useful for teacher development and further research.