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Title: Student teachers learning to use 'Assessment for Learning' in schools
Author: Chun, Desmond Tan Chia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 0372
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Assessment for Learning (AfL) has been seen as a key aspect of teaching and learning for almost two decades, since the seminal review by Black and Wiliam (1998a). However, the research has largely been conducted with practising teachers rather than student teachers. This thesis attempts to fill this gap in relation to AfL, and illustrate that understanding how student teachers learn to use conceptual resources, such as AfL, can inform the work of all those who support the learning of teachers in training. The present study investigated how four secondary geography student teachers on a one year post-graduate training programme in England worked with ideas associated with AfL in their teaching during two school placements. The study asked how and why they used AfL or, as became evident, Assessment of Learning (AoL) in their teaching and what their use of AfL might tell us about their learning to teach in schools. The thesis adopted a cultural-historical approach to investigate the actions in activities of the student teachers as they learnt to teach. The four students were followed over two terms in their two placement schools to gather data on their trajectories as learners and beginning teachers. Data collection methods were: (i) semi-structured interviews with the four students; interviews with their teacher mentors and other school staff; and (ii) regular post-lesson interviews with the student teachers, following observations of their teaching. The cultural-historical approach led to examining AfL as a potential tool to be used by the student teachers in their teaching. Engeström's (1990, 1999, 2007) work on tool use and mediating artefacts was deployed to analyse the student teachers' use of AfL and what they saw as its purposes. The attention to purposes of tool use in the study was also informed by Hedegaard's (2012, 2014) work on motives in institutional practices, the activities in the practices and the actions taken by student teachers. This approach pointed to how the institutional motives and demands embedded in school practices influenced their learning. The study also paid attention to the identity work being done by the student teachers. This work was most apparent when the student teachers moved from their first to second placement school and worked with a different set of demands in institutional practices. One early finding was that although school colleagues and student teachers were using the label AfL, closer examination revealed that they were actually using AoL. Key findings from the final analyses were as follows: there was considerable variation in how the geography specialist teacher mentors interpreted and used AfL; some mentors were strongly mediating the AfL/AoL expectations evident in the school inspection system in England; there was evidence of some strong and challenging mentoring, but it was not consistent across the experiences of the students; the students' own sense of the kind of teacher they wanted to become could be tracked in ways which revealed how they coped with the different school demands and what they saw as university expectations; the transition between placement schools was significant for the student teachers in ways that had not been anticipated by the design of the programme. Following the student teachers as learners offered insights into their experiences in the black box of school placements during teacher education. Consequently, the implications for the design of teacher education programmes are a key part of the discussion stimulated by the findings.
Supervisor: Firth, Roger ; Edwards, Anne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education ; Initial Teacher Education ; Cultural-historical theory ; Assessment for learning ; PGCE ; Teacher Education