Assessment tools

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Tool 7E: Key Challenge


Issue/Challenge: Promoting Quality Supervisory Relationships


Challenges that arise within the complex dynamics of relationships within professional experience (pre-service teachers, supervising teachers, tertiary mentors) can lead to tensions across personal and professional dimensions - maintaining professional relationships is important and mentor teachers need to allow pre-service teachers to develop their own teacher identity.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: Time pressure

Time during which the PST is placed within the school is precious for their professional learning.

However, time pressure and the tensions arising for teachers undertaking additional work in professional experience are commonly cited as concerns. All teachers and schools add the work of guiding and assessing PST in Professional Experience on top of their existing teaching commitments. For academic mentors this work is often additional to their teaching and research commitments. Limits on time to focus on the PST’s learning and assessment can impact on the quality of mentoring that can be provided to PSTs and possibly limit the evidence assessors can draw on in making decisions. Time pressure can also cause teachers and academics to be reluctant to take on supervisory roles in professional experience programs thus limiting availability of placements.

Time pressure also is increasingly arising from the need for teachers to attend to their own professional accreditation requirements with state and national bodies (AITSL), including documenting their professional practice against Professional Teaching Standards at levels beyond that of the Graduate. Finding time-effective ways to combine work with PSTs as well as advancing teachers’ and academics own professional learning is an increasing challenge. Being part of a learning community that includes peer groups of PSTs can meet both these needs and result in time efficiencies.


Assessment Strategy & Process


Assessment Strategy and Process: Peer Grouping

When PSTs undertake a professional experience placement in a pair or group structure opportunities arise to improve the quality of their professional learning and also to contribute to the assessment process. From a resource aspect, including the educator’s time, working with groups can be more efficient in sharing the educative role with other educators but also through PSTs supporting each other. PSTs working together in pairs or groups can support each other’s professional learning when guided by the supervising teacher.

Schools that host groups of PSTs generally establish a partnership with the university that allows for a collaborative approach to professional experience. Teams of teachers working with academics who have consistent contact with the school form a firm basis for a community of learners. The assessment process can be also more collaborative with mentors more strongly involved in early identification of PSTs needing additional support as well as assisting teachers with the summative grading and reporting processes.

With respect to time pressure, peer grouping of PSTs can lead to:

  • more than one educator/assessor can be involved  in the learning community – multiple teachers and tertiary mentors thus supporting more time efficient approaches to collaborative decision making in summative assessment and reporting.
  • a wider group of educators involved in the  assessment process  reducing time pressure and providing opportunities to attend to any relationship issues  arising from particular inter-personal dynamics
  • collaborative planning and co-teaching experiences followed by feedback and evaluation by peer PSTs.
  • structured discussion sessions involving the PST group or additionally supervising teachers &/or mentors giving PSTs the opportunity to explore and share their experiences and reflections
  • specific tertiary mentors from the university  being allocated to the peer group allowing more consistent involvement of that mentor across the placement. Closer monitoring of the performance of PSTs is possible and the provision of additional assistance to both PSTs and their supervising teachers

Assessment Process

  • Peer group placement structures and processes can be a formal requirement of a specific professional experience program or be set up on an individual basis to respond to a specific need or assessment challenge.
  • Clear guidelines need to be established as to roles and responsibilities within group/partnership structures including peer responsibilities and collaborate educative approaches
  • Commonly schools open to hosting groups of PSTs have developed a partnership relationship with the university including collaboratively developed protocols, expectations, designated teachers involved as supervisors and specific mentors allocated by the university
  • Video can be effectively used with PSTs recording teaching sessions of their peers with simple hand-held smart technology devices. Recorded material can then be used to guide reflective discussion and erased to guarantee privacy. Video material can assist productive discussion regarding a PST’s actual teaching expertise
  • ICT Communicative technologies offer the potential to increasingly employ online links such as Skype and video-conferencing to connect both on and off the placement site. These are often more time and resource effective approaches.







Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • A set of explicit guidelines for peer work needs to be developed collaboratively by educators both school and university-based, including the status of each PST’s contribution with respect to their final formal assessment and grading.
  • Specific agreements regarding the partnership expectations between school and university-based educators need to be collaboratively developed in terms of roles, responsibilities and expectations.
  • Evidence Guides, particularly those that flesh out the Professional Teaching Standards at Graduate level can be a valuable document to guide the PST in focussed observation and providing feedback to their peer.
  • Summative judgement may be informed by documents assembled during the placement, including those generated within the peer learning processes,. Focus is commonly not only towards the evidence selected and presented but to pertinent reflective comments.



Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed when peer grouping is part of the assessment process. However, selected Standards and focus areas may be identified as relevant to a particular group of PSTs or a specific stage. A final presentation by the preservice teachers via a (shared) 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 collaborating in the professional learning of peers.