Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Curriculum and Instruction
McIntyre, Dr. D. John
The key purpose of this qualitative case study was to gain an understanding of classroom teachers’ perceptions of the process and impact of formative assessment on classroom instruction in a secondary school. The study was designed to obtain information about how teachers view formative assessment as part of their everyday planning and preparation, as well as sought to determine whether or not there was a correlation between teachers’ perceived understanding of formative assessment and their implementation of formative assessment in the classroom. The three main research questions that guided this study were: 1) How do teachers’ perceptions of their own understanding of formative assessment affect their instructional practice? 2) How do teachers’ perceptions of their own understanding of formative assessment evolve over time? 3) What supports exist to help teachers implement formative assessment at the high school level? The case study focused on participants who were current 9-12 public school teachers representing mathematics, physical education, and foreign language. To triangulate the data, multiple types of data were collected from the teachers. Pre- and post-surveys, unstructured interviews, focus groups, classroom observations with participant observation notes, and logs were used to collect the data. Data was then analyzed using analysis of the pre-surveys and compared with information gained from the other data sources. Data was later analyzed using the post-survey and compared with the information from other data sources to determine individual teacher growth over time. The results from the first research question indicated that teachers understood the accountability of both teachers and students in the assessment process, but required additional support in determining how student learning becomes the basis for use of formative assessment, types of different methods used, and overall teacher competencies about formative assessment. The second research question indicated that growth occurred when professional supports were given in areas where weaknesses were identified. Initially, formative assessment was viewed by many as a means of compliance with the new teacher evaluation system. With continued professional development, teachers’ acceptance of formative assessment increased as their understanding of the process dually increased. In addition, as teachers began to see growth in student achievement, their overall acceptance of formative assessment also increased. The third and final research question indicated that supports must not only be global in nature, but must also be focused on the individual. When teachers know where they are and know the target of where they want or need to be, instructional growth does occur. Supports for teacher instructional practice will vary based on identified needs, understanding of formative assessment, and the type of supports available. Recommendations for follow-up study include the use of additional focus groups, extending the formative assessment survey to include lengthening the time of the study, and a change in setting to avoid certain nuances that can occur with studying the same school district. Additionally, research should be completed on the long-term effects of personalized professional development and whether teachers continue to use formative assessment practices as they gain more extensive experience. Since this particular school was undergoing a complete system change while the study was being completed, it would be dually important to investigate a school that was not in the midst of such a change. With all the additional supports available to the teachers in this study, it is important to see if a teacher’s perceived understanding of formative assessment would continue to translate into instructional practice if whole school and individual supports were not as prevalent.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.