Inquiry-based science learning places new demands on teachers for assessing students' growth, both of deep conceptual understanding as well as developing inquiry skills. In addition, new ideas about classroom assessment, such as the importance of formative assessment, are gaining currency. While we have ideas about what classroom assessment consistent with inquiry-based pedagogy might look like, and why it is necessary, we have little understanding of what it takes to implement it. That teachers face a challenge in doing so is well-documented. Researchers have noted that teachers attempting changes in classroom assessment often bring with them incompatible beliefs, knowledge, and practices. Noting general incompatibility, however, is insufficient to support addressing these issues through professional development. The goal of my research is to better understand the cognitive aspects of these challenges, in order to design professional development to support teachers' assessment of inquiry-based science.
I created an assessment framework outlining specific categories of beliefs, knowledge and skills affecting particular classroom assessment practices. The underlying assumption is that the ways in which teachers assess students in science classrooms are mediated by beliefs about assessment, and afforded or constrained by certain knowledge and skills. The framework identifies six classroom assessment practices as well as specific categories of teacher beliefs, knowledge, and skills that affect each practice. I then used the framework to examine teachers' classroom assessment practices and to create comparative cases between three middle-school science teachers, highlighting how the different cognitive factors affect four particular assessment practices. From these cases I draw implications for the design of professional development to support teachers' classroom assessment of inquiry-based science.
In this talk I will provide a brief overview of the framework and its rationale, present an example of the comparative case studies demonstrating the application of the framework and what it reveals about the cognitive influences on teacher practice, and outline the resulting design implications for professional development.