Re-thinking assessment : a dynamic approach to assessment for practitioners working in education : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand

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Understanding learners, determining how they learn, what hinders their learning, and how to bring about change are critical aspects of practitioners’ assessments when supporting young people who access learning support. Practitioners working for the Ministry of Education continually evaluate current and new assessment approaches to improve their ability to understand and effect change for learners. This research introduced a group of practitioners to a structured dynamic approach to assessment, using the REThink framework through a professional learning and development workshop. Such an approach to assessment is principled, ethically responsible and culturally responsive, and one that enables practitioners to investigate change in a young person’s learning in context. The methodology of this research takes a socio-constructivist approach, grounded in qualitative inquiry. The theoretical and analytical framework of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) was used for its responsiveness to the multi-dimensional and situatedness of the research activity, for exploring individual practices of assessment and investigating the challenge of changing or adapting assessment practice. The results foreground the essence of change within and across practitioners’ assessment practices and the systems within which they work. It highlights how a dynamic approach to assessment has the potential to build educator capability, manipulate the activity through analysis, develop a young person’s cognitive and metacognitive skills using games, and increase practitioner knowledge of the cognitive and metacognitive skills embedded within the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. This research points to the importance of developing practitioners’ assessment literacy to enable them to make informed decisions about their assessment practice, to move beyond given and ‘typical’ assessment tools, and afford them the opportunity to grow their competence and confidence to advocate for alternative options. This study concludes that a dynamic approach to assessment is an alternative or complementary approach, and has the potential to be transformative for practitioners, educators, and young people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Figure 2.1 (=Lundy, 2007 Fig 1) was removed for copyright reasons.
Dynamic assessment (Education), Cognition in children, Learning, New Zealand