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Student teachers learning to assess school mathematics

Herrington, A., Herrington, J., Sparrow, L. and Oliver, R. (1996) Student teachers learning to assess school mathematics. In: From Virtual to Reality Apple University Consortium Conference, 24 - 27 September 1996, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

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    Abstract

    Students enrolled in teacher education courses are faced with learning both discipline content and methods of teaching content to schoolchildren. Within teaching methodology, a number of important pedagogical issues arise. One of the major issues is assessment. Student teachers are now required to learn about a variety of assessment strategies and be able to apply them on their school practices and later in their own classroom. Many of these assessment strategies are new to students whose main experiences have been assessment by unseen paper-and-pencil testing. Unfortunately, student teachers and teachers in general often employ methods derived solely from their own limited experiences as students (Ball, 1994; Lampert & Ball, 1990). Hence, despite the variety of innovative and effective assessment techniques, teachers generally continue to limit their means of assessment to a narrow range of pencil-and-paper methods (NCTM, 1995; AEC, 1991).

    It would appear that teaching practice is a useful way of enabling student teachers to gain relevant experiences in which they can apply their knowledge gained from teacher-training courses. Unfortunately, not all students are fortunate enough to be placed in a teaching environment where they can explore and experiment with a variety of assessment techniques. Mousley & Sullivan (1995) have noted that preservice teachers' experiences in classrooms during their practicum have proved inadequate because often students observe teaching 'driven by texts and tests', or are ill equipped to detect the subtle differences between quality and mediocre teaching.

    An environment that enables students to experience a range of appropriate classroom situations can be provided by multimedia. Recent advances in computer technology allow for the storage of large amounts of data in the form of visual, audio and text formats. These formats allow for multiple perspectives and representations of ideas to be easily accessible and interactive.

    The approach that we have taken is to use current theories of learning, in particular the notion of situated cognition or situated learning, (Brown, Collins, and Duguid, 1989) as a framework for designing interactive multimedia that allows student teachers to become not only aware of different assessment strategies in mathematics education, but also to gain the conditional knowledge of when it is appropriate to apply them in the real context of the classroom. McLellan (1994) summarises the key components of the situated learning model as: apprenticeship, collaboration, reflection, coaching, multiple practice, and articulation of learning skills (p. 7). Many of the authors and theorists who are constantly refining the model believe that useable knowledge is best gained in learning environments which feature the following characteristics (Herrington & Oliver, 1995):

    • Authentic context that allows for the natural complexity of the real world
    • Authentic activities
    • Access to expert performances and the modelling of processes
    • Multiple roles and perspectives
    • Collaboration to support the cooperative construction of knowledge
    • Coaching and scaffolding which provides the skills, strategies and links that the students are initially unable to provide to complete the task
    • Reflection to enable abstractions to be formed
    • Articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit
    • Integrated assessment of learning within the tasks.

    Publication Type: Conference Paper
    Conference Website: http://auc.uow.edu.au/AUC+Conference
    Notes: Appears In: Proceedings of the Apple University Consortium Conference
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/7775
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