This RespMath-project is about developing assessment for learning (AfL) competencies in mathematics among Norwegian secondary school teachers. AfL means that teachers utilize assessment information in order to inform and develop their own teaching, and engage the student in a learning dialogue about own learning needs. We chose to call this Responsive teaching.
The project is an intervention study conducted in cooperation with 10 lower secondary schools, 40 math teachers and 1050 9th grade students in the West of Norway.
Throughout a 7 months intervention period math teachers were expected to develop responsive pedagogy through three cycles of three weeks. The first cycle focused on feedback, the second on self-regulation, and the third on self-efficacy.
Pupils were supposed to be taught how to give precise information to their teachers concerning their learning needs. Math teachers and teams were free to decide what kind of learning activities they chose for the intervention. For the purpose of discussing experiences and document research, teachers used logs, observation of colleagues? lessons and videos of teaching-situations from their own classrooms. The two schools in each district were closely connected as learning partners in collaboration with a mentor from the research group. Each school had a math teacher who acted as a contact person serving as the link between the research group and the teachers. Discussions of experiences and plans continued within the math team in each school, in meetings with math colleagues in peer schools, and in meetings between mentors from the research team and the contact persons in schools. Seminars for all participants were organized at the beginning of each cycle. The purpose was to gain new theoretical insights, share experiences, and make new plans.
During the intervention we carefully examined what went on in the classroom and measured student learning. For data collection, we used a mix of qualitative methods such as interviews, observation and structured analysis of video-recorded teaching as well as quantitative methods like math-tests and a self-report questionnaire. The quantitative data collected from the intervention group were compared to data from the control-group.
Quantitative data reveal only small significant short-term positive differences between the total scores for the baseline and the post-test in the experiment group compared to the control group. When computing for effect size (Cohens d) for the variables very low positive effect sizes were found.
As regards the qualitative data, teachers as well as students identify noticeable changes after the intervention. Teachers claim to have improved in timing their response and assert that students use multiple learning strategies. Students confirm that the teachers now encourage them to use multiple strategies. They have a clearer vision of their role in the feedback activities and say that teachers now pay more attention to self-assessment and collaborative activities. Furthermore, the students claim that teachers use more open questions in their dialogue than prior to the intervention.
The project was defined as a research and development project. Hence, the issue of how to support teachers in developing the desired competence in feedback practices was a focus in the current study. In the interviews teachers mention the following issues as important success factors in this project: sufficient time for learning, ownership of the ideas for change, the importance of time for discussions, involving external expertise, and active involvement of school leaders. The conclusion from many teachers was that they are going to practice responsive pedagogy in the future.
However, upon completion of the project, these important conditions, mentioned by the teachers, are likely to disappear, such as protected time for collaboration and support from facilitators and mentors outside school. Consequently, a longitudinal study focusing on the sustainability of teachers? professional learning and students? learning is necessary to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the extent to which the overall aim of the RespMath project has been achieved.
This project is about developing assessment competencies in mathematics among Norwegian secondary school teachers. We refer to the project plan for FINNUT, thematic priority area B, Learning processes, assessment methods and learning achievement. The proj ect is contextualised in 10 schools located at various places on the West coast of Norway, 9th grade, mathematics teaching, and addresses the requested issues of assessment practice and adaptation of the learning environment, both of which are included in what we define as responsive teaching. The emphasis the program plan puts on student learning, well-being and self-esteem is in our project addressed by investigating achievements, self-regulation and self-efficacy, all of which relate to motivation for schooling. The program combines teachers' professional learning and rigorous research, and the interplay between the two is needed to take education forward and to develop new understandings of what we could call The Black Box in Education, the interplay and relationship between teaching and learning, between teachers' actions and students' responses and actions. Teachers' assessment and feedback practice is a central topic in the national and international educational discussion. Much international resea rch has looked at the relationship between assessment and learning outcomes measured by tests, however there is little Norwegian research examining this relationship. Moreover, whereas we acknowledge the importance of looking at the impact of assessment o n students' achievements, we assume there is more to learning than content achievements as regards to empowering students. Students' belief in their own capacity to learn and their skills to regulate their own learning are crucial to developing life-long independent learners. To examine the above issues we have chosen a mixed methods study, combining quantitative (surveys) and qualitative techniques like interviews, observations and video-observation data.