Teachers’ use of classroom assessment techniques in primary mathematics education - An explorative study with six Chinese teachers

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Abstract

Background
This paper reports on the use of classroom assessment techniques (CATs) by primary school mathematics teachers in China. CATs are short, focused assessment activities that can reveal students’ understanding of specific mathematical subjects. The study involved six female third-grade mathematics teachers from Nanjing, China. The focus was on assessing division. Data were collected by teacher interviews, feedback forms and final reports, lesson observations, and student work.

Results
The study revealed that the teachers could easily include CATs in their daily practice. By conducting the CATs, the teachers got new information about their students’ learning. Most teachers liked using the CATs, especially those with the red/green cards, which is a whole-classroom immediate response format, providing quick information of the students’ learning. The teachers also found the CATs feasible to conduct and helpful to engage their students during the lesson. However, no evidence was found that they used the information gained from the CATs for adapting their instruction to meet the students’ needs in subsequent lessons. In fact, the teachers only used the teacher guide of the CATs to adapt their instruction beforehand. The CATs, instead of being implemented as assessment activities, were often included as extra exercises in the pre-arranged lesson plans of the teachers. If necessary, the teachers provided their students with instant help in order to assist them to get the correct answers.

Conclusions
In general, the teachers were positive about the CATs as a way to reveal their students’ understanding of division in an effective and efficient fashion. The teachers recognized that it can be very revealing to challenge their students with questions that are not completely prepared by the content of their textbooks. The results of this study suggest that on the one hand CATs can be helpful for Chinese mathematics teachers’ formative assessment practice in primary education. On the other hand, our study also provides some evidence that using CATs, as an approach to formative assessment, to make informed and adequate decisions about further teaching, can be a real challenge for teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of STEM Education
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2016

Keywords

  • CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT
  • China
  • Teachers
  • Mathematics education
  • Primary school

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