This study enacted and supported a scaffolding process to improve Preservice Teachers’ (PSTs) assessment literacy as they experienced school placement.
It is crucial to create opportunities that enhance PSTs’ understanding of assessment literacy, helping them to reconsider conceptions previously developed as school students (socialisation experiences) and to gain an appreciation for the benefits assessment affords students in their learning. Assessment literate teachers can enact appropriate assessment practices that can improve students’ learning and the teaching-learning process while providing opportunities for students to regulate their learning. Eight physical education PSTs working with the same university supervisor took part in the study. Data was collected through individual and focus group interviews, post seminar reflections and testimonial surveys, researcher’s field notes, and PSTs’ school placement reports. This study highlighted that supportive, practical, and critical participatory approaches are crucial to encourage PSTs to question and change their assessment conceptions, and to improve their assessment literacy. Results also showed that, despite struggling to avoid practicing what they experienced as school students (i.e., socialisation experiences), PSTs can alter their assessment understanding and practices to incorporate assessment for learning principles. While it is acknowledged that changing conceptions does not necessarily result in changed practices (Brevik et al., 2017), this study has conveyed the importance of exposing PSTs to practical experiences in real contexts, capturing and addressing PSTs’ continuous engagement with assessment in an attempt to support and develop their assessment literacy. Exploring and considering PSTs’ assessment understandings on entering teacher education programmes is a key starting point if we are to support PSTs in challenging, and ultimately changing, them (Pastore, 2020; Starck et al., 2018). Teacher education programmes are encouraged to consider how they can best acknowledge and address the pre-conceived assessment conceptions PSTs bring into these programmes.
André Moura is a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences in the University of Limerick.