Embedding Formative Assessment: A Peek Inside the Black Box
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This chapter uses case studies of three secondary biology teachers to describe how context and timing are important in implementing formative assessment strategies in an appropriate manner. Putting theory into practice is a complex and illusive task, and we would be remiss if we did not look deeply at the context in which teachers work. All three teachers taught in the same school under similar conditions, but the environment seemed to have little effect over each teacher’s use of formative assessment. Rather, it was how they responded to environmental pressures, guided by their instructivist or constructivist leanings derived from internal constructs that seemingly had a profound influence on their practice. These case studies highlight the tendencies of teachers to make learning visible, their degree of responsiveness, and the degree to which they prompted students to take responsibility for their own learning and that of their peers. The narrative illuminates how traditional instruction leaves little time or space to implement the processes of formative assessment, thus the need for new instructional frameworks to support it.
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