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Title:Korean middle- and high-school math teachers' understanding of formative assessment: an interview study
Author(s):Lee, Sun Hee
Director of Research:Crockett, Michele D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Daniel J. Walsh
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Crockett, Michele D.; Saul, Mahir; Zerai, Assata
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Mathematics Education
Formative Assessment
Educational Policy
Professional Development
Mathematics Teachers
Abstract:This interview study was conducted to learn about twelve Korean middle- and high-school math teachers’ understandings of formative assessment. Face-to-face semi-stuctured interviews and field notes were the primary sources for data. I employed an issue-focused analysis to learn about specific issues for each participant (Weiss, 1994) as I examined transcripts and field notes. My overarching research questions are three-fold. First, what are Korean middle- and high-school math teachers’ understandings of formative assessment? Second, what are social, educational, and policy contexts that affect how teachers implement formative assessment practices? Third, how do teachers learn about formative assessment and formative assessment practices? In this study formative assessment is defined as instructional activities conducted before, during, and after instruction to improve the quality of teaching and to improve students’ capacity to perform subsequent work (Black & Wiliam, 1998, 2009; Stiggings, 2010). Before instruction, the teacher creates assessment tasks or formulates questions. During instruction, the teacher elicits evidence of student learning through observation, interprets elicited evidence through questioning and discussion strategies, and communicates assessment results to students. After instruction, the teacher makes adjustments to subsequent teaching (Black & Wiliam, 1998, 2009; Stiggins, 2010). Another construct under study is discourse-based formative assessment practice (DAP), which is a subset of formative assessment. It happens during instruction, when a teacher gathers evidence of student learning on the spot, interprets student learning by asking additional questions, and makes instructional adjustments in real time. A significant finding was that Korean teachers were able to distinguish between formative and summative assessments. In teachers’ own words, summative assessment was defined as follows: (a) it is an overall evaluation of students’ academic achievement; (b) it is conducted in the final stage of major instructional periods, such as when a chapter is completed or when a semester is over; (c) it is used to keep detailed records of students’ academic progress. Another finding was that Korean teachers demonstrated a wide range of formative assessment practices and strategies. In teachers’ own words, formative assessment was defined with reference to the learning objectives and instructional content. It is used to check how well students are comprehending instruction within a class period. It provides helpful information for both teachers and students. For example, students can receive feedback on how they can improve their work, and teachers can improvise during an ongoing lesson and plan next instruction. Korean teachers’ specific examples of formative assessment strategies were clustered around three practices that exemplify DAP. With respect to educational policy contexts and opportunities to learn about formative assessment, there was a tight connection between government educational policies and teacher professional development programs. Professional development programs helped teachers adopt new educational policies into their practice. Government assessment policies, including standards-based assessment and long-descriptive-written assessment, are explored in detail. Two things became clear to me as a result of my dissertation study: (a) the important role of professional development programs, and (b) the role of teachers in the unit schools working hard to implement assessement policies put forth by the government. For future research, I would like to be involved in a professional development programs about formative assessment (FA) and discourse-based formative assessment practices (DAP). Other researchers could pursue teachers’ formative assessment practices in the climate of assessment reform (i.e., standards-based assessment). This study will contribute to the formative assessment literature and secondary math education literature, because there is a paucity of research about Korean teachers’ formative assessment practice in both the Korean and U.S. literature.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Sun Hee Lee
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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