Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 60 Number 2, March/April 2009. 155-167
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Supporting student teachers in learning to teach is a collaborative effort by mentor teachers, teacher education supervisors, and student teachers. Each of the participants appraises effort and progress in learning to teach from different perspectives, however. This study explores how practice lessons are assessed by multiple raters.
To determine whether there was any alignment among the different raters, the authors performed an explorative study to gauge actual ratings of student teacher lesson performance. For this purpose, data were collected in triads (17 of them). Triad members rated a particular teaching performance in a lesson given by the student teacher.
The assessors (51 participants in total) in each triad were the mentor or practice teacher, the supervisor or visiting teacher educator from the teacher education institute, and the student teacher. All participants volunteered to take part in the study and were affiliated with a large teacher education institute in the Netherlands that had several branches (and practice teaching locations). The institute maintained a core teaching program for all student teachers in which practice lessons were integrated and evaluated against the same standards. Practice teachers were teachers in primary education affiliated with the program as mentors and were informed about course objectives and standards for practice teaching.
Alignment in rating was analyzed in 17 triads and compared with respect to purpose of assessment, object of appraisal, preferred methods, and focus of the appraisal as well as on the criteria used by the various assessors.
Shared problems encountered during the appraisal were also gauged. The findings indicate considerable variation in purposes and multiple perspectives in criteria among the different assessors. Differences and similarities among the stakeholders were interpreted as contributing to a multifaceted appraisal of accomplishments. Nevertheless, a shared, common ground is also needed to value the different aspects that should be included in an integrated or encompassing approach for assessment of learning to teach.
According to the authors' view, the most important feature of assessments in learning to teach is that they allow students to control their own learning by helping students identify strengths and weaknesses in a continuous, nonthreatening way.
Furthermore, in combining different perspectives, delivery of feedback can complete the appraisal process by integrating collected practice experiences to provide recommendations for further development.