Supportive Practices in Teacher Education: Finding out What Pre-Service Teachers Know about Teaching, Learning, and Community, through Purposeful and Creative Assessment

Article excerpt

In my teaching I speak about and model for pre-service teachers how to utilize authentic assessment as a tool for holistic teaching and learning. A holistic perspective, according to Hill and Ruptic, (1994) is based on current research that highlights the interactive nature of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This practice focuses on the individual needs of the child/student, and includes the physical, social and emotion, as well as the intellectual growth. In class students are given the time and opportunity to read, discuss, and practice various assessment strategies. They know assessment is more than developing a test for students so that a teacher can grant them a grade. They do not however, have a good grasp of the concept that pedagogy and assessment are linked. Or even more that self-efficacy is a driving force behind good teaching and learning. In the philosophy of assessment, evaluation, and reporting, Hill and Ruptic, (1994) say that to believe in authentic assessment is to realize that assessment and evaluation must centered, and tied directly to current curriculum. Therefore, I believed that I could best find out what the students knew about classrooms and communities through an authentic assessment practice for their final project. I wanted them to see how teaching and authentic assessment allow for a more thorough understanding of pedagogy and creativity. I was contemplating a final test in the class, and thought it would be both interesting and supportive, if I were to create an authentic assessment tool that called for them to think, write, create, and learn. I realized that this authentic assessment could really do a number of other things.

First, students would see authentic assessment in the making, therefore would witness me, their teacher, modeling this worthwhile and valuable tool. Second, they would see for themselves the benefits of what they had learned and then apply this to their developing repertoire of teaching and managing classrooms. Third, they would have fun. This last idea came to fruition later when I examined their work and it became evident they enjoyed this type of assessment. In revealing how these three central ideas came into the realm of authentic assessment, I first will explain why these three main ideas are of importance.

Authentic Assessment in the making

What could I do in the way of modeling for my students what authentic assessment really is and how an undertaking of this sort requires planning? I decided to let students discuss how authentic assessment is different from the everyday run of the mill test. Many students knew about rubrics and scoring techniques as well as teacher-made tests. But what I was asking them to do was to draw a picture of a "dwelling," a house, to be exact, with the foundation of the house their own philosophy of education. That was the starting point, and that is what I drew on an overhead transparency. I explained this would be the way to launch the construction of the rest of the house and label each part of the house as a symbol of the ideas they had in mind. For example, a window on the house can represent many things and everyone will have different ideas about windows. A window might represent the child's view of the classroom, or a window to the world of learning.

I anticipated that through this assessment they would try different ways to approach this task. I know that students demonstrate their learning through a variety of assessment tools.. "In addition, evaluation of student learning should be at several levels-recall, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation" (Burden, pg. 157). I believe that teachers also need to model these various levels and to create curriculum that lends itself to authenticness. My modeling in essence was, "Here is something I want to try and how do you feel about it?" A few voiced opinions that they could not draw. I responded by saying, "I can't either", but the art work is not what is important. …

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