Assessment Orientation in Formative Assessment of Learning to Teach

Jun. 30, 2009

Source: Teachers and Teaching, Volume 15, Issue 3 June 2009 , pages 391 - 405.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

How mentors in their role as assessors appraise practice teaching lessons may strongly influence their student teachers' learning of how to teach. It can be contended that an assessment for learning (AfL) perspective on process and criteria of appraisal will support a shared valuation of student teachers' practice teaching and acceptance of recommendations to improve subsequent performance. However, previous research shows that assessors adopt different orientations to formative evaluation and do not necessarily take into account (learning) perspectives of the student teacher.

Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine whether 'following recommendations' as a result of an AfL (to teach) is influenced differentially by a performance perspective as compared to a learning perspective on assessment by the assessor.

Research Questions

More specifically, this study deals with the following questions:
Is student teachers' acceptance of feedback affected differently by the assessment orientation of their assessors? and

How is 'acceptance of feedback' related to 'following recommendations'?


The study was conducted in The Netherlands within one large institute of primary teacher education during 2006-2007 with 163 student teachers in the first year of their four-year programme of practice teaching.

Twenty-five supervisors/mentors who are regular assigned assessors of student teachers participated.
In order to avoid a possible mismatch between orientation and assessment beliefs of assessors (Brown, 2004), they selected the condition in which they took part. Thirteen took part in a performance-oriented assessor condition and 12 in a learning-oriented condition.

Of the 163 student teachers who took part in the study, 75 took part in a performance-oriented assessment condition and 88 took part in a learning-oriented assessment condition.
Due to missing values a full data set could be obtained from only 105 students; 48 in the performance perspective and 57 in the learning perspective.

The authors found neither a differential effect of assessment orientation on acceptance of feedback nor disparities between assessment orientation and the student teachers' following recommendations.


In conclusion, therefore, the authors tend to the position that both assessment orientations are by themselves inconclusive, since, obviously, they do not deliver the needed effect on (change in) student teachers' practice, or even in acceptance (in clarity, feasibility and confidence) of the feedback provided. In this respect, a fusion of the two orientations which addresses both task-orientedness as well as understanding and reflection on accomplishments might be a better path for the assessors to take in helping student teachers learn how to teach.

Brown, G. T. L. (2004) Teachers' conceptions of assessment: Implications for policy and professional development. Assessment in Education 11:(3) , pp. 301-318.

Updated: Dec. 02, 2009


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