An exploration of grade 9 teachers' understanding and practice of assessment as it relates to the economic management sciences learning area.
A key purpose of this qualitative study was to explore grade 9 teachers’ understanding and practices of assessment as it relates to the Economic Management Sciences (EMS) learning area. The process of data collection included interviews of three teachers’ and the observation analysis of learner portfolios. The three participants were grade 9 EMS teachers’ from a secondary school in Chatsworth, Durban. The findings of this study indicated that teachers’ understand and practise assessment by using summative forms of assessment as required by the school’s assessment policy. There were several constrictive factors which influenced teachers’ understandings and practices of assessment. This influenced teachers’ to adopt an ‘assessment of learning’ approach. It was revealed that inadequate resources, time, policy interpretation and large number of learners’ classes were major influences which shaped teacher’s understanding and practice of assessment. The contest of the school’s rigid and structured assessment policy was a key inducing factor which influenced teachers’ assessment practices. This study suggests that if classroom teachers are to become effective ‘mediators’ of assessing they must be provided with a better theoretical grounding of assessment. The Department of Education needs to provide more guidelines, practical demonstrations and workshops to assist to teachers to understand and implement new concepts of assessment practices. Reduction of the number of learners in the classes and stipulated assessment requirements must be considered by the Department of Education. Schools and teachers must be provided with the necessary and appropriate resources. Facilitation of adequate professional development courses for teachers, head of department and principals will support teachers to accept change and remove feelings of reluctance towards assessment, thus this will promote teachers’ understanding and practices of assessment towards an ‘assessment for learning’ approach.