Criterion-referenced assessment for modern dance education
This study monitored the conceptualisation, implementation and evaluation of criterion-referenced assessment for Modern Dance by two teachers specifically chosen because they represented the two most usual stances in current teaching i.e. one valuing dance as part of a wider, more general education, the other as a performance art. The Review of Literature investigated the derivation of these differences and identified the kinds of assessment criteria which would be relevant in each context. It then questioned both the timing of the application of the criteria and the benefits and limitations inherent in using a pre-active or re-active model. Lastly it examined the philosophy of criterion-referenced assessment and thereafter formulated the main hypothesis, i. e. "That criterion-referenced assessment is an appropriate and realistic method for Modern Dance in schools". Both the main and sub-hypotheses were tested by the use of Case Study/Collaborative Action research. In this chosen method of investigation the teachers' actions were the primary focus of study while the researcher played a supportive but ancillary role. The study has three sections. The first describes the process experienced by the teachers as they identified their criteria for assessment and put their new strategy into action. It shows the problems which arose and the steps which were taken to resolve them. It gives exemplars of the assessment instruments which were designed and evaluates their use. It highlights the differences in the two approaches to dance and the different competencies required by the teachers if their criterion-referenced strategy was adequately and validly to reflect the important features of their course. In the second section the focus moves from the teachers to the pupils. Given that the pupils have participated in different programmes of dance, the study investigates what criteria the pupils spontaneously use and what criteria they can be taught to use. It does this through the introduction of self-assessment in each course. In this way the pupils' observations and movement analyses were made explicit and through discussion, completing specially prepared leaflets and using video, they were recorded and compared. And finally, the research findings were circulated to a larger number of teachers to find to what extent their concerns and problems had been anticipated by the first two and to discover if they, without extensive support, could also mount a criterion-referenced assessment strategy with an acceptable amount of effort and within a realistic period of time. And given that they could, the final question concerned the evaluations of all those participants i.e. teachers, parents and pupils. Would this extended group similarly endorse the strategy and strengthen the claim that criterion-referenced assessment was a valid and beneficial way of assessing Modern Dance in Schools?