Source: Studying Teacher Education, Volume 5, Issue 1 May 2009, pages 33-44
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In the authors' pre-service department, university practicum supervisors are faculty members who offer academic, social, and personal support to teacher candidates during their year-long program. Their role is described as one designed primarily to provide formative assessment and feedback to improve classroom practice and reflection on practice. This collaborative self-study describes how two new faculty members responded to the challenges posed by the teacher candidate evaluation process.
Methods used included formal tape-recorded discussions during meetings of the self-study group of newly hired faculty, email correspondence, field notes, feedback from public forums about their work, and teacher candidate insights concerning the practicum evaluation process conducted by faculty.
The findings are presented under four headings: (1) Measurement error in assessment: Are we authentic during the teacher candidate evaluation process? (2) Going public: Sharing our evaluative dilemma with other educators, (3) The crux of the matter: Do we evaluate or do we counsel? and (4) What the teacher candidates say: Formative versus summative evaluation processes.
As a result of their self-study, the authors made several recommendations:
- Revamp the evaluation form to fit our brief observation period and to reflect our role as faculty advisor,
- Increase the number of times we observe students and extend the length of each classroom observation, or
- Re-invent the nature and scope of the faculty advisor's role to acknowledge the
'uncomfortable compromises' within the current advisory group model.
In the short term, other approaches to improving the assessment framework might include more questioning strategies when assessing teacher candidates. Adding a self-evaluation component to the evaluation form for teacher candidates might also improve the formal evaluation process.
The authors believe that the evaluation form needs to be significantly shortened as well as redesigned. Since writing this article, they have approached the Program Committee and been invited to lead a sub-committee to revise the evaluation form for teacher candidates. They recognize the urgent need to change the evaluation process to shift the focus to provide less summative assessment (of learning) and more formative assessment (for learning). This would more accurately fit their Learning Faculty orientation. Streamlining the evaluation form is something we would like to discuss with all faculty members in their pre-service department.
During this collaborative self-study, the authors have learned some valuable lessons in the areas of faculty practicum supervision, assessment and evaluation and their own future practices as teacher educators. Issues related to the utility of anecdotal versus rating formats, temporal dimensions in teacher candidate performance indicators, and the relationship between faculty and associate teacher evaluations are all aspects that must be negotiated within a new vision for assessment and evaluation of teacher candidates during faculty practicum supervision. Moreover, these issues need to be discussed on a faculty-wide level.