Assessment tools

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Tool 4B: Key Challenge


Issue/Challenge: Continuity Between Placements


For many pre-service teachers when they complete one professional experience and their assessment form is filed at the PE office - they never look at it again. Ensuring pre-service teachers link their assessment from one placement to the next is important.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: Continuity between professional experience placements  

Across each pre-service teacher education course PSTs will experience a sequence of separate professional experience placements, commonly undertaken in different sites and with different teachers and tertiary mentors guiding them. This can result in a lack of coherence of learning for the PST. Also limitations can arise concerning the information flow between separate professional experience placements with regard to each PST’s prior learning and future professional needs. In general, supervisors and assessors receive very little background information concerning a PST’s previous professional learning and experiences. Information concerning the outcomes of previous professional experience placements and information concerning their individual professional learning needs is often left to the PST to choose to share or not.  Undoubtedly, issues of confidentiality and each PST’s rights to privacy need to be taken into account. However, the lack of structured processes to feed-forward information and goals for each PST from one professional experience component to the next can make the work of both formative and summative assessment difficult and can lead to discontinuities in a PST’s professional development.

Additionally, PSTs themselves can experience their series of professional experience placements as lacking continuity and coherence. Each placement can be experienced as a separate event and the learning implications arising from one site not used by them to inform their goals for a subsequent placement. The professional experience components can remain separate from each other, from such frameworks as the Professional Teaching Standards and from on-campus learning. Portfolios as an on-going document have the potential to provide a structure that supports the integration of all these aspects of teacher professional learning within a coherent on-going document for each PST.


Assessment Strategy & Process


Assessment Strategy and Process: Portfolio

  • Portfolio assessment requires the PST to compile, link and present a selection of evidence collected across the placement period in order to demonstrate their teaching capacity and understandings in selected area(s) of teaching practice.
  • A portfolio that is progressively completed across the sequence of professional experience placements is a valid way in which assessors can gain a ‘picture’ of previous placements, learning experiences and learning needs.
  • It can also provide structural support to PSTs in documenting a coherent ‘picture’ of their professional learning.  For all involved in professional experience, an ongoing ‘portfolio’ or passport documentation that moves with each PST between and across placement sites and throughout a pre-service teacher education course has the potential to effectively support continuity of learning experiences for both assessors and PSTs..  
  • As part of a PST’s orientation to a professional experience placement and the establishment of professional communication with their supervisor, presentation of a portfolio documenting their previous placement and professional learning  could be a requirement. This would provide a foundation for communication  to establish learning priorities, expectations and additional supports needed within the placement being undertaken. It also could set benchmarks against which further professional development could be assessed.
  • The portfolio may be a highly  defined process guided by specific proformas and communication steps including key questions to be addressed, or may allow more autonomy and creative input for the PST themselves.
  • For portfolio work, the PST is usually provided with scaffolded documentation  to guide the evidence collection process, often aligned with a Professional Teaching Standards framework. The portfolio commonly includes reflective comments providing the PST opportunity to provide a context for each piece of evidence. Links to particular Standards and Focus Areas can be strengthened through annotation of evidence against such frameworks.
  • Portfolios provide opportunities for the PST to organise and integrate experiences, understandings, and reflections emerging from their placement and from campus-based learning. It provides an assessment mode that is richer than one solely based on observation of teaching practice and can allow the assessor to have a ‘window’ into the thinking and ‘meaning-making’ of the PST.
  • The portfolio can be presented by the PST to their supervising teacher/assessor or a panel and discussed as a summative event within the assessment process. Portfolios thus provide a valuable contribution to assessor’s decision-making to guide and support the final grading and reporting.
  • At the end of the pre-service course the final portfolio can be used to provide a complete documentation of the PST’s attainment of all Professional Teaching Standards at graduate level. As a document it can then be presented at interview for accreditation or employment. It can also provide the foundation for portfolio work required for the next stage of professional accreditation by in-service teachers.
  • Portfolios may be electronic (e-portfolio), aiding the inclusion of a range of electronically transmissible evidence such as photos and videos as well as providing a means for electronic submission to assessors who may be at distance from the professional experience site. ICT Communicative technologies offer the potential to increasingly employ online links such as Skype and video-conferencing to connect Roundtable assessment participants both on and off the placement site and to link effectively to e-portfolio structures.

Portfolio evidence/artefacts may include:

  • Documents such as lesson and unit plans, including evaluative comments.
  • Observation and feedback sheets completed by supervising teachers and mentors.
  • Resources developed during the placement
  • Video, audio and photo material – annotated (or not) to demonstrate elements of teaching practice.
  • Reflective writing and analysis possibly in response to a set of pertinent questions



Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • A set of explicit guidelines for portfolio development frequently linked to Professional Teaching Standards needs to be collaboratively developed and communicated to guide the presentation and discussion of a portfolio by the PST and how it is to be included in the assessment processes.
  • To increase continuity across professional experience components, a specific document that outlines major outcomes achieved by a PST within a placement and goals for the following placement can be included in the portfolio. This supports on-going professional development as information can be fed-on from one placement to the next.





Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed when portfolio development and presentation is a key assessment process. However, selected Standards and focus areas may be identified as relevant to the portfolio requirements at  specific PST developmental tages. A final presentation by the PST via a portfolio when articulation of understandings and performance against Professional Teaching Standards is required, provides rich evidence to inform the assessment summative judgment.

 Standard 6, Engaging in Professional Learning is particularly apt in terms of the PST focussing on the development of their own professional learning and providing evidence of this development within a portfolio.