Assessment tools

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Tool 5C: Key Challenge


Issue/Challenge: Guiding and Assessing 'At Risk' Students


Guiding and assessing ‘at risk’ pre-service teachers is frequently the most stressful and potentially challenging aspect of supervising teachers’ work in professional experience. Placements need to be supportively managed with early identification, clarification of key issues, action plans put into place and clear communication protocols.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: ‘At risk’ PSTs

Assessors commonly state that guiding and finally assessing and grading a border-line PST who is struggling with Professional Experience and possibly ‘at risk of failure’ can be the most challenging aspect of their supervision role. Supervising teachers and mentors often need to consider and implement relevant additional support strategies to assist the PST within such placements. Rather than focussing only on the point of ‘failure’, potential educators need to consider effective strategies for ‘PST additional support’ that can be put in place in a timely manner.

Each PST, supervisory team and school placement context is different and responses in terms of forms of additional support need to take account of all these factors. Commonly PSTs need assistance in analysing their own teaching practice as well as understanding in what ways they need to further develop. Video can provide a valuable ‘window’ for PSTs into teaching practice.

The following may be contributing factors to the complexity around formulating and implementing ‘additional support’ strategies:

  • difficulty for the PST to understand, visualise and accept aspects of their professional practice that are of concern.
  • challenges for supervising teachers to  communicate and PSTs to ‘hear’  information regarding expectations, specific aspects of professional practice that are of concern and processes to be followed.
  • lack of a clear shared ‘picture’ of the PST’s practice to inform discussion and formative guidance. Lack of clear practical steps to support further PST development and timely communication.
  • pressure on the assessor to come to a summative judgment as well as take account of the complexity of mitigating factors that can impact on a PST’s capacity within a particular placement
  • lack of opportunity across the placement for sufficient observation by a single assessor to inform a valid judgment
  • lack of opportunity for both school and university-based educators to have a shared understanding of the PST’s professional practice to inform the assessment judgment
  • lack of opportunity to include the PST’s voice and to provide opportunity to include their reflective comments.

The inclusion of video or audio technology as means of ‘capturing’ elements of professional practice has the potential to assist assessors and PST by providing them with additional evidence of what actually occurs during teaching. Video is a means of providing evidence of both the contexts and practices of teaching and learning and provides the possibility for the preservice teacher to reflect on and discuss key elements of their own practice evident within the video as part of the assessment process. Video can contribute to formative identification of areas of practice that require further attention and enrich feedback processes.


Assessment Strategy & Process


Assessment Strategy and Process: Video and ICT

  • Video technology provides a means of providing a PST who needs additional support with clear evidence and a ‘picture’ of themselves in the act of teaching. The video can focus on the practice of the PST themself, expert teacher or their peers – each video can be  analysed and form the basis for rich reflective discussion and deeper professional learning.
  • Video material can be used as the basis of demonstrations of practice, a source of evidence to be reflectively engaged with to progress professional learning or as an artefact to be included in a portfolio as an element to guide assessor judgment. Video technology has been a common means to capture aspects of classroom contexts, student interactions in the teaching and learning process as well as recording the practices of teachers.
  • In times past accessing and utilising appropriate technology has often limited video use in teacher professional learning. However, video technology is developing rapidly in ways that allow both PSTs and their educators to easily and unobtrusively record ‘snippets’ of practice.  Devices as Smart phones and flip videos are accessible and simple to use.
  •  Video  evidence can be captured and discussed in the immediate context of practice and then deleted, avoiding issues associated with privacy and ethics pertinent to recording in school settings. Additionally, if protocols are in place, video material can be easily saved and viewed at a later date as part of both formative and summative assessment processes.
  •  Ease of electronically transferring video material from say a smart phone to an e-portfolio facility makes the inclusion of video as a component within a portfolio a simple step
  • Video components possibly within a portfolio structure may be annotated with respect to a selection of Standards and focus areas, serving to provide documentation of the preservice teacher’s understanding of what counts as valid evidence against a particular Standard.
  • Video material can be presented by the preservice  teacher to an individual assessor or to a Roundtable panel and discussed as key summative evidence within the assessment process. Video thus has the potential to provide a valuable contribution to assessment decision-making and to guide and support final grading and reporting processes.
  • Video may be a highly defined process guided by specific proformas and communication steps including key questions to be addressed, or be less defined to allow more autonomy and creative input from the preservice teacher.
  • ICT offer the  potential to increasingly employ online links such as Skype and video-conferencing to connect assessors both on and off the placement site and to link effectively to e-portfolio and video structures.



Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • Appropriate video technology for example smart phone video cameras or flip videos need to be equitably accessed. Programs employing video as a placement requirement would need to ensure all preservice teachers were able to access appropriate technology or its equivalent and not be disadvantaged in this process.
  • Video protocols – guidelines for use, ethical considerations, ownership, storage, privacy considerations pertinent to both university and school guidelines. All protocols understood and shared by the supervising teacher and preservice teacher. Development of proformas for example necessary for parental information and permission may be necessary.
  • Guidelines clarifying points of focus for collecting video material, annotating, reflecting or analytic writing, for example use of Professional Teaching Standards as an analytic framework. Clarification as to how video material is to be employed within both formative and summative assessment steps.
  • Access to annotation software can be employed by preservice teachers.
  • A set of explicit guidelines for video activities, possibly linked to Professional Teaching Standards needs to be collaboratively developed and communicated to guide the presentation and discussion by the PST and how video material  is to be included in the assessment processes, for example within a portfolio.



Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed when video technology and its  presentation is a key assessment process. However, selected Standards and focus areas may be identified as relevant and providing a focus for the video for ‘at risk’ PST’s at specific stages. A final presentation by the PST via a portfolio containing video evidence linked to  articulation of understandings and performance against Professional Teaching Standards 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.