An investigation into the implementation of formative assessment in grade seven natural sciences : a case study of the three primary schools in Umlazi district.
The study rests on the assumption that teachers of Natural Sciences apply various assessment strategies in their interaction with learners. Among the strategies that are proposed by the National Department of Education is the use of formative assessment. Due to the challenges that face teachers of this learning area, the researcher opted to explore the implementation of formative assessment, especially because there is vast lack of implementation of various departmental programmes and initiatives that are aimed at the betterment of our education system during this transformation period. To engage in this study, the researcher purposively selected three primary schools with Grade Seven classes in Umlazi District. Three research methods are employed to investigate the implementation of formative assessment in Grade Seven Natural Science classes, namely, semi-structured interviews, semi-structured observations and document analysis. Purposive, criterion-based selection was used to select participants to the study. Participants involve teachers of Natural Sciences at Grade Seven level. Data were collected using the afore-mentioned methods, and were analysed using Vygotsky’s theory constructivism and his concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Data were presented narratively, graphically and in tabular forms. The data are extensively discussed with reference to literature on formative assessment. The discussion is aimed at responding to the three research questions that drive the entire investigation. Findings thereof are presented in narrative form. The data collected helped the researcher to make sound conclusions about the implementation of formative assessment in the three sampled primary schools. Recommendations are made concerning the implementation of formative assessment in respect of what could help teachers achieve the prescribed learning outcomes and assessment standards through the use of formative assessment. Though the findings presented indicate the contextual factors typical to the three sampled schools, particularly the Grade Seven classes, they could be transferred to other institutions with similar settings because this is a case study research. This means that what happens in the three selected schools could be common to other schools as well regarding the use of formative assessment during teacher-learner interactions.