Page: 372-392 Author: KOSÍKOVÁ, V., ČERNÁ, K. Key words: formative assessment, feedback, criteria and indicators of assessment, dialogic and directive mode of working with mistakes, self-regulating competence, metacognitive knowledge
This research report offers empirical findings on assessment, specifically about the use of formative assessment in the context of work with mistakes. The study focuses on the question of whether assessment by teachers in secondary-school practice provides pupils with feedback and in this way develops their competence in self-regulation and metacognition. The object of the research was analysis of the causes of mistakes (at the level of pupils and teachers) and reactions to mistakes: part of the research project involved establishing the semantic connotations of the term mistake in pedagogic context.
The definition of the goals and overall focus of the research project was based on the theoretical premise that assessment has an informativefunction in feedback on the activity assessed, For this reason it is pedagogically essential that the assessments should serve the pupils themselves, both to improve the quality of learning, and to achieve a better understanding and improvement of the activity carried out. The research project was conceived as a pilot study and initial probe into educational reality in the area concerned. It was intended to test the usability of the method of collection and processing of data and to produce selected concrete findings that could be discussed and further tested in practice. The aim was for the research findings to be usable as suggestions for the orientation of training of teachers for school assessment.
The results of the research probe suggest that there is a great deal of room for further exploitation of the potential of formative assessment in the sample of teachers studied. Shortcomings were found above all in the teachers’ capacity to provide pupils with information on the fulfilment of teaching goals by means of clearly formulated criteria of assessment. In addition it was found that in assessments teachers are not giving pupils sufficiently precise and informative feedback on identified mistakes and ways of remedying them. Connected with this is “negligence in working with terms”: insufficient attention devoted to inferences and the logical relations of terms in assessment of content. In the teaching that was studied, the so-called directive variant of work with mistakes predominated over the dialogic approach, and this was manifest in the orientation of teachers mainly to the identification and correction of mistakes: the pupils were not getting enough of the information necessary to enable them to understand their own learning activity. At the same time this means that pupils are not being consistently led by teachers to reflect on their own performance. This fact was probably reflected in the conception of the term “mistake”, which was studied by the method of semantic differential. It emerged that pupils and teachers discernibly diverge in their concept of the mistake. The pupil’s perception of a mistake tends to negative connotations, and the mistake is judged as a failure, a negative assessment that is the business of the teacher, not the pupil himself. Teachers by contrast see a mistake more as an opportunity for the pupil to learn.
The problems outlined above are manifest both directly in teaching and in assessment using tests. Test questions were found to have inadequate validity of content, being formulated in a way that allowed different interpretations. Poorly formulated questions then lacked the logical link between the demands on performance and the criterion for assessment of that performance. This means that the informational and so the formative function of assessment in relation to the pupil’s learning and the activity carried out by the pupil gets completely lost.