Teachers' Beliefs about and Practices Incorporating Formative Assessments in Science Classes: A Case Study

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  • The purpose of this dissertation was to examine how teachers’ beliefs affect their use of formative assessment practices. I studied the teachers’ values of formative assessments, as well as how they used formative assessments in the classroom. Additionally, I examined how the teachers used the formative assessment results to not only modify their instruction, but also to provide feedback to students. Formative assessments are instructional practices used to inform teachers and students about students’ learning. Information from the formative assessments allows teachers to make decisions about content, the student’s development of knowledge and skills along a learning progression, and the next steps for the learner in order to attain academic achievement. This case study, centered in the science department of one northern New Jersey high school, used a qualitative approach for data collection and data analysis. Specifically, the research began with a Likert-scale survey of 12 science teachers designed to gather their beliefs and their practices related to formative assessment with their classes. I used descriptive statistics to analyze the Likert-scale responses from the survey. The teacher interviews added personal voice to the data collected in the teacher surveys. This added dimension of voice provided depth to the patterns identified from the survey data. Through the process of axial coding (Creswell, 2014), I analyzed the transcripts of the teachers’ responses. The analysis of the survey data and interview responses revealed that the teachers valued formative assessments and used them in their classrooms as part of their instructional practices. The teachers’ responses indicated that they used formative assessments as part of their instructional practices. However, although the teachers believed formative assessments should be used to modify their lessons to meet the current learning level of their students, the data showed they did not regularly share the feedback from the formative assessments with the students. Since students were not receiving the feedback from the formative assessments, they were not provided with the opportunity to reflect on their learning, and therefore, cannot understand how they learn. The research findings suggest that teachers need support in order to change their classroom practices so that they can transition from teacher-centered formative assessments to student-centered formative assessments. Once teachers successfully understand how to design and implement lessons that provide information about students’ learning, the next step is for teachers to know how to apply the data. A shift must occur from instructors using formative assessments solely to adjust their pedagogical practices to the teachers embedding formative assessments in order for the students to assess their own learning.
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  • 12/08/2023
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