Type of Document Dissertation Author Aydeniz, Mehmet URN etd-01042007-214901 Title Understanding the Challenges to the Implementation of Assessment Reform in Science Classrooms: A Case Study of Science Teachers' Conceptions and Practices of Assessment Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Middle and Secondary Education, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Nancy T. Davis Committee Chair John Dorsey Committee Member Penny J. Gilmer Committee Member Sherry A. Southerland Committee Member Keywords
- Assessment Reform
- Science Education
- Assessment of Learning
- Standardized Testing
- Teachers' Beliefs
Date of Defense 2006-06-09 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe purpose of this study is to understand the professional and structural, political and cultural factors that present challenges to the implementation of assessment reform in science classrooms.
An analysis of recent science education literature and national science education reform documents suggests that change in schools is a complex process that does not happen overnight and is subject to the influence of many professional and structural attributes (Berliner, 2006; Brooks, 2005; Cuban, 1990; Duschl, 1990; Gess-Newsome, Southerland, Johnston & Woodbury, 2003; Southerland & Hutner, in press; Tyack & Cuban, 1995). Structural components include school culture; bell schedule, administration policies and mandates, standards, curriculum and accountability measures. Professional components involve teachersí epistemic views of science, their pedagogical conceptions and their conceptions of assessment along with knowledge necessary to translate these conceptions into practice (Barnett & Hodson, 2001; Gess-Newsome & Lederman, 1999; Gess-Newsome et al., 2003; Mortimer & Scott, 2003; Shulman, 1986). Education literature suggests both of these components, professional and structural components, shape how teaching takes place, thus, what students learn in science classrooms (Brickhouse, 2006; Duschl, 1990; Gallagher, 2006; Gess-Newsome & Lederman, 1999; Gess-Newsome et al., 2003; Southerland & Hutner, in press).
Assessment plays a significant role in efforts to bring about improvements in the educational system (Brickhouse, 2006; Davis, Genc & Aydeniz, in press; NAS, 2006; NRC, 2001; 2005; Southerland & Hutner, in press). Assessment serves multiple purposes. Assessment can be used to support learning (Abell & Volkmann, 2006; Bell & Cowie, 2001; Black & William, 1998; Brookhart, 2006; Davis et al., in press; Klassen, 2006; Shepard, 2000), to monitor the effectiveness of a particular curriculum (NAS, 2006; NRC, 2005), to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of instruction (Bell & Cowie, 2001; NAS, 2006; NRC, 2001; Shepard, 2000), and to evaluate the efficiency of the school system (Davis et al., in press; Linn, 2000; Popkewitz, 2000). Although assessment can serve multiple purposes, the confusion over learning and achievement as manifested in political initiatives that aim to bring about improvements to the educational system through standardized testing has reduced the role of assessment in educational reform to accountability (Abell & Volkmann, 2006; Brickhouse, 2006; Darling-Hammond, 2003; Davis et al., in press; DeBoer, 2002; Delandshere, 2002; Southerland & Hutner, in press; Stiggins, 2004). Several science educators, who view learning as more than just what is revealed through a single standardized test, find this approach to educational reform problematic (Abell & Volkmann, 2006; Brickhouse, 2006; Davis et al., in press; DeBoer, 2002; Southerland & Hutner, in press). These scholars maintain that the increasing focus on ensuring high test scores has pressured teachers to reduce the role of assessment to the accountability purposes and the content of science teaching to studentsí acquisition of only the knowledge and skills necessary for passing the test.
Although the pressure that the standardized tests generate influences what teachers assess in studentsí learning and how they go about assessing what they teach (Brickhouse, 2006; Darling-Hammond, 2003; Popham, 2006; Stiggins, 2004), other factors may also influence how teachers come to assess studentsí learning. For instance, teachersí conceptions of assessment may fail to reinforce the goals of science education reform documents. Furthermore, teachersí epistemic views of science and their pedagogical conceptions may also have an impact on what teachers assess and how they go about assessing studentsí learning in science. Finally, research indicates that the political and cultural structures have an impact on teachersí conceptions and practices of assessment (Berliner, 2006; Darling-Hammond, 2003; Southerland & Hutner, in press; Stiggins, 2004). It follows that characterizing the challenges of enacting assessment reform in science classroom includes exploring science teachersí professional knowledge base (epistemic views of science, pedagogical conceptions and their conceptions of assessment), and influences of the cultural and political structures.
In this study, I focus on characterizing three high school science teachersí conceptions and practices of assessment to develop an in-depth understanding into the problems with the implementation of assessment reform in science classroom. In addition to three teachersí conceptions and practices of assessment I analyzed the major science education reform document such as NSES (NRC, 1996) as well as policy initiatives such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
My dissertation reveals that although the political and cultural structures of the school system influence what teachers teach in science classrooms and how they go about assessing studentsí learning in science, the fundamental challenge to the implementation of assessment reform in science classroom is teachersí naÔve pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) base. Furthermore, although my findings suggest a nested relationship between science teachersí epistemic views of science, their pedagogical conceptions and their conceptions of assessment, there is no relationship between science teachersí teachersí epistemic views of science, their pedagogical conceptions, their conceptions of assessment and their assessment practices. This is partly due to the influence of the political and cultural structures of the school system and partly due to teachersí naÔve understanding of the nested relationships between various constructs (epistemic beliefs, pedagogical beliefs, assessment beliefs), that make up their conceptual ecology (Southerland, Johnston & Sowell, 2006).
In my conclusions I argue that in order for the assessment reform to take place in science classrooms, teacher educators must help pre-service and in-service teachers to develop a sophisticated PCK base. This involves helping teachers to develop sophisticated epistemic views of science, sophisticated pedagogical conceptions, and sophisticated conceptions of assessment.
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