Teachers' understanding and use of assessment in the context of outcomes-based education : a case study of a Hammersdale farm school.
Langa, Rosemary Rosebud Rosa Fikile.
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This study investigates the nature and extent of teacher's understanding of assessment in the context of an outcomes-based education system at a Hammersdale Farm School. The study also investigates the nature of assessment techniques used by educators at the school and whether these techniques were implemented in a manner that enhances learner performance. The educator level of assessment literacy or illiteracy was also examined. Learner's experience of assessment was also investigated. The subjects in this study were eleven educators and twenty-two learners. The research methodology was in the form of a qualitative case study. Individual interviews of educators, learners questionnaire as well as document analysis were used to investigate educator's assessment, literacy or illiteracy, learner's experience of assessment and whether assessment (there) techniques are implemented in a manner that embraces principles of outcomes-based education. The results revealed that educators show an understanding of assessment in an outcomes-based education system. There has been a shift from the traditional way of conducting assessment, which was by means of tests and examination only. Educators conduct assessment continuously and employ a variety of strategies, which help educators collect data about learner's performance. The data collected enables educators to give constant feedback to learners and also report to parents about their children's performance. However, findings also revealed that there is some illiteracy with regards to assessment planning and implementation. (Educators attempts are dwarfed by the tradition of summative type of assessment that educators have been exposed to all their lives. The study has also revealed that though educators engage in continuous assessment and employ various assessment strategies; examinations are still considered as the strategy to be used for making decisions and public judgments due to lack of clearly formulated school assessment policy. There is minimal participation of parents in their children's learning, which is due to illiteracy with regards to transformational policies and curriculum issues. Some parents, because of work commitments, financial constraints and not living with their children, makes participation almost impossible. The implication of this study is that the school needs to have a clearly formulated assessment policy, which reflects OBE principles. The policy should state clearly how assessment is to be planned and implemented in an outcomes-based education system. The school also needs to have a staff development programme which is an ideal platform for sharing meanings and interpretations with regards to assessment implementation in an outcomes-based education system. The development programme will also help educators revisit and review their assessment policy to ensure that assessment implementation is on track. Parent participation in their children's learning could be made a reality through workshops. Parent's workshops would help develop parents on transformational policy and curriculum issues. This will ensure maximum parent participation in their children's learning and also ensure that parents provide necessary support to sustain effective learning.