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Title: An exploration of children's experiences of national assessment in schools : how do national assessments influence children's identities?
Author: Price, Julie Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 7074
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2017
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The impact of test anxiety on children’s wellbeing is of increasing concern to educationalists (National Union of Teachers/Exam Factories, 2015). In addition, the impact of SATs on children’s well-being is currently at the heart of much media interest (refer to articles in The Guardian 30.4.17 and The Independent 1.5.17). Despite a growing research base, the focus has been largely on the experiences of secondary or college students, and has primarily been investigated using quantitative approaches. The aim of the current study was to develop an understanding of the emotional impact of national assessment on primary aged children, and to explore how the construction of children’s identities might relate to these experiences. Initially twelve children from two schools were identified with Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) on the basis of them representing a range of social backgrounds, and emotional and cognitive abilities. A total of eleven children were interviewed twice. The data from five children from year six and a child from year two were then further analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Four superordinate themes emerged from analysis, each with a number of subordinate themes. The theme ‘Support from others’ illustrates the way in which the children’s learning was situated within a social context, from which testing created a rupture, as described in the theme ‘Tests create anxiety’. Children described a tendency to keep negative feelings about testing to themselves, creating a split between the private and the public self. Performance in tests informed children’s sense of value, beyond the confines of the target ability (‘Self-evaluation from feedback’). The theme ‘Who I want to become’ captures a process of negotiation as children became immersed in reflection on their identities, negotiating a compromise between self-evaluation on the basis of the tests and possible future selves. Due to the research method and size of this study, implications from the results have to be treated cautiously. However, it would seem advantageous for schools to address the potential negative effects of testing on emotional well-being, identity and aspiration. Suggested ways of achieving this are increased opportunities for children to express their private anxieties with regard to testing, including discussion with adults in non- teaching roles, and specific interventions that promote well-being and self-esteem in relation to test anxiety and the implications of results. In addition, policy and practice should consider ways to minimise the rupture to learning created by testing.
Supervisor: Norwich, Brahm ; Tunbridge, Margie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: national assessment ; SATs ; children's experiences ; identity