Looking for a fairer assessment of children's learning development and attainment in the infant years : an educational action research case study
This thesis tells the story of an infant head teacher researcher's journey into the heart of a living educational assessment landscape. She embarks on this journey to search for a fairer assessment of young children's learning, development and attainment. It is a journey that forces her to question everything about the professional world in which she works and lives. The story is intended to use and evoke the human senses within the context of a real infant school (for children aged 3-7 years) - seeing, touching, hearing, and listening. It provides the vehicle to experience and gain an Insight into an evolutionary and exploratory journey of people working and learning together as they reflect on the creative, emotional, social, moral and sensual feelings of practice. In particular, it offers insights into the professional identity of the writer as she critically examines the impact of educational assessment on a school community and the people working in it. The research methodology is adapted from critical action research in which the researcher's educational values are the yardstick against which the tacit knowledge of action (practice) is evaluated. Professional stories of past practice are used to represent implicit theories that are collaboratively reflected upon as they are deconstructed and explored. The creative research process is uniquely represented by the visual metaphor of a multi-layered jigsaw puzzle that enables the researcher to uncover successive, significant layers of professional knowledge in the infant school that relate to the concept of a fairer assessment of children's learning, development and attainment. The educational assessment landscape or 'sensescape' is traversed in order to make sense of the conceptual model of a fairer assessment of children's learning, developnient and attainment as a living educational theory. The research offers an original contribution to educational knowledge in that it clarifies meanings of the researcher's ontological value of a fairer assessment of children's learning, development and attainment and transforms that value into a living epistemological standard of critical judgement.