Rethinking Student Teacher Feedback: Using a Self-Assessment Resource With Student Teachers

Mar. 01, 2019

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume: 70 issue: 2, page(s): 155-168
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study is to explore a pedagogical self-assessment resource that incorporates student feedback, called the Person-Centered Learning Assessment (PCLA; Freiberg, 1994-2017). It does so in the context of preservice student teachers. The PCLA is different from most current self-assessment practices.
It is not a static assessment created by administrators or supervisors based purely on a teacher’s self-perceptions. Instead, it is a teacher-directed, multistep dynamic process that incorporates external sources, in the form of digital audio recordings and student feedback.
Essentially, the teacher first chooses areas to examine, called Descriptors and defines Observable Indicators that detail what an observer would see being utilized in his or her classroom.
The teacher then audio records a lesson, self-assesses his or her own effectiveness based on the Descriptors and Observable Indicators, collects anonymous student feedback, and then compares the self-assessment with the feedback. Finally, the teacher takes this analysis (PCLA I), repeats the entire process with a new lesson (PCLA II), and compares the results.

Research Questions
1. How does using the PCLA modify the student teacher’s self-assessment from the first to the second lesson?
2. Why do the student teachers choose their particular indicators as part of the PCLA?
3. How does student feedback of the student teacher’s lessons on the PCLA change from Lesson 1 to Lesson 2?

The Research Context
This study included 10 secondary student teachers who taught in a large, urban city in the Southwestern United States from February to May 2014.
While in their second semester of student teaching, they were invited to participate at a regularly scheduled workshop. Participation in this research replaced the semester’s final project.
The student teachers taught within three different content areas (mathematics, social studies, and English) and gave no indication they had prior teaching experience.

Research Question 1 explores whether the participants actually made modifications or changes to their teaching as a result of using the PCLA.
The authors observe that through their students’ feedback, student teacher self-reflection, written reflections, and interviews, the participants highlighted a number of areas of potential growth and change.
Whereas eight student teachers discussed areas of modifications made from PCLA I to PCLA II, all student teachers discussed areas of modifications they planned to make beyond the student teacher experience.

The authors report that the student teachers indicated that the PCLA process gave them an opportunity to receive feedback from their students and self-assess their own classroom by providing a resource that engaged the affective domain. Throughout this process, the student teachers self-discovered and identified their need for specific modifications to their classroom teaching methods.
As a result of these plans for modifications, many student teachers made improvements in their PCLA II.
Research Question 2 attempts to discover why each student teacher designed his or her PCLA in his or her chosen individualized manner.
Generally, the authors found that the student teacher’s reasons for choosing specific Descriptors can be categorized as either

a. descriptors chosen for understanding the student perspective—giving the students a voice and understanding that voice better or

b. descriptors chosen for understanding the educator perspective—understanding what the educator is actually doing in the classroom.

Research Question 3 attempts to explore whether change in student feedback from PCLA I to PCLA II occurred.
The authors noted that in hundreds of pages of interview transcripts and PCLA reflections, student teachers rarely spoke of specific comparisons between PCLA I and PCLA II ratings.
The authors suggest that the lack of depth in student teacher rating comparisons may be due to student teacher focus on reasoning behind each score and not on overall comparison throughout the semester

The opportunity to work with Freiberg’s PCLA gave student teachers the resources to look deeply into their classroom and teaching in a nonevaluative environment, from both their own perspective and that of their students.
The participants shared their experiences and came away from this research with new insights into their classroom.
The researcher simply facilitated conversation throughout this process, but the student teachers became the inquisitors of their own secondary classroom teaching. The student teachers drew their own conclusions about their strengths and weaknesses and made decisions about what their classroom data said about their teaching and classroom climates.
This process is different from the typical student teaching experience, in which the cooperating teacher and university supervisor provide the primary or sole sources for feedback. Although self-reflection strategies exist in teacher education programs, emphasis generally lies on external evaluations.
The authors note that the PCLA can support those strategies by providing a systematic self-assessment approach.
They note that working with the PCLA provided opportunities to learn about teaching through student numeric and narrative feedback, audio recording, and self-reflection, resulting in greater classroom affect.
Two main themes were seen as a result of the findings: (a) student teachers value student feedback and (b) self-assessments encourage student teacher reflection about teaching and needed changes.

As a result of the literature review and this study, three recommendations for teacher preparation programs are provided by the authors:
Teacher preparation programs should provide opportunities for the following:

1. Receiving student feedback
2. Self-reflection using multiple sources of data
3. Engaging the student teacher in developing a self - assessment measure

Freiberg, H. J. (1994-2017). CUIN 6370 Affective instruction class syllabus: Person-Centered Learning Assessment (Doctoral dissertation). College of Education, University of Houston, TX

Updated: Jun. 05, 2019