University of Leicester
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An investigation into the theory and practice of formative assessment in key stage 3 geography

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:42 authored by Yonca Tiknaz
Formative assessment has been identified in the School Improvement literature as an intervention which could significantly improve teaching and learning in the classroom and raise standards of student attainment for students of all ages (Black and Wiliam, 1998a). In order for this to happen, there is a need for an adequate conceptualisation of the process of formative assessment which seeks to identify the key components and their interrelationships. The Literature Review of this thesis demonstrates that the current understanding of formative assessment is focused on three key components, namely, assessment tasks, teacher feedback and pupil self-assessment. The research studies as well as the major reviews in the area, mainly focused on teacher feedback, and pupil self and peer-assessment. The component which is given less emphasis in the literature, is the nature of assessment tasks and the identification of criteria for devising it to facilitate formative assessment. The research for this thesis mainly investigates how geography Key Stage 3 teachers understand and use formative assessment in their practices. Specific emphasis is given to understanding the criteria that teachers employ when they devise tasks. To deepen the understanding of formative assessment, two selected classrooms were observed and pupils' views were gained relating to assessment issues. Research took the form of 12 in-depth interviews with heads of geography departments, 14 hours of recorded classroom observations and 20 Key Stage 3 pupil interviews. The research indicates that teachers' assessment task design was mainly informed by the geography level descriptions but their incorporation into practice was problematic due to the difficulties of interpretation. Target setting appeared to be powerful, and was the commonest strategy for communicating to pupils what they needed to do to improve their learning and thereby facilitate formative assessment. Teachers and pupils acknowledged the benefits of pupil self and peer-assessment. Teachers had varied ways of facilitating pupil self-assessment, however, pupil-peer assessment was quite rare. The predominant challenge for teachers appeared to be the planning for progression in pupils' learning, which required a conceptual understanding of the nature of progression in Geography KS 3 and the ability to interpret level descriptions. The majority of teachers felt that they needed external support to facilitate progression more effectively.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • EdD



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