Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ASSIST-ME Report Summary

Project ID: 321428
Funded under: FP7-SIS
Country: Denmark

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ASSIST-ME (Assess Inquiry in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education)

Project Context and Objectives:
A modern society and our increased insight into learning and teaching make an increased demand to students’ outcome of science education – the educational goals are constantly becoming more and more ambitious, demanding advanced professional and generic abilities. These new goals are expressed in competence terms, describing for example inquiry processes or modelling processes as well as innovative or argumentative processes that the students should be able to perform. We know a lot about how to teach for these new competences, for instance through many FP7 projects. Many FP7 projects have also established extensive programmes for teacher professional development for the new competences.

But it is a fundamental problem that the predominant assessment and evaluation forms are not able to capture these new goals. Most assessments are still based on relatively traditional test formats based on a post-positivist paradigm, and mostly as summative assessments without the learning potential of formative assessments. We know that the assessment forms have a deciding influence on teaching – “teaching to the test” is a well-known and reasonable teacher reaction on the test regimes currently invading the educational systems. Thus, traditional assessment forms will encourage ‘traditional’ teaching so that most of the existing assessment and evaluation forms are blocking for teaching that makes it possible for students to acquire the new learning goals.

It is therefore necessary to develop new assessment forms able to capture these new learning goals and to affect educational policymakers to implement them in the national educational systems.

The overall aim of ASSIST-ME (Assess Inquiry in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education) is to provide a research base on effective uptake of formative and summative assessment for inquiry-based, competence oriented Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) education in primary and secondary education in different educational contexts in Europe and to use this research base to give policy makers and other stakeholders guidelines for ensuring that assessment enhances learning in STM education.

As ASSIST-ME is a research project, the work within the project is driven by the formulated research questions. These are:

1. What are the main challenges related to the uptake of formative assessment in the daily practices in science, technology and mathematics in primary and secondary schools in different European educational systems?
• In their efforts to enact innovative inquiry-based teaching-learning sequences, how do teachers approach the need to monitor student learning as it develops? To what extent do they use structured formative assessment and in what formats?
• What systemic support measures and what tools do teachers need in order to integrate formative assessment of student learning in their classroom practice?

2. What changes are needed in summative assessment practices?
• To bring them into consistency with the learning aims of IBE in STM?
• To ensure that they support and do not inhibit the practice of formative assessment?

3. How can formative and summative assessment methods including use of ICT be used together to promote learning in inquiry-based STM?

4. How can research-based strategies for the use of formative/summative assessment be adapted to various European educational traditions to ensure their use and avoid hindrances?
• How can the diverse roles of summative and formative assessment be clearly delineated for teachers and what strategies can help them make appropriate use of both, each to fit its own purposes?
• How can relevant stakeholders be invited to take co-ownership to the research results and how can a partnership between researchers, policy makers, and teachers be established in order to secure relevant actions following implementation guidelines?

Project Results:
ASSIST-ME is structured in three phases:

Phase 1: Synthesize existing research on assessment and identifying and categorizing Europe’s educational cultures.

Phase 2:
(a) Design assessment methods using formative and summative approaches.
(b) Implement the assessment methods in different educational cultures.

Phase 3:
(a) Validate and share results with different stakeholders and expert groups.
(b) Develop guidelines and communicate with policy makers and stakeholders.

In Month 18 the project finished Phase 2a. The partners agreed upon designing four assessment methods and working with six competences (mentioned below) and the implementation processes of the assessment methods in the classrooms started September 2014. The implementation of the assessment methods ran in three rounds, each of app. four months, ending December 2015. In order to change practice and influence policy, research and implementation are performed in close collaboration between researchers, teachers and policy makers. The collaboration is managed through National Stakeholder Panels (NSP) with representatives from industry, ministry, heads’ association, teachers’ association, media, parliament, foundations, etc. The representatives have been selected through a network analysis method developed in the project by WP6. These panels will discuss the findings and give feedback to the whole process.

Another important collaboration organ is the Teacher Expert Panels (TEP)/Local Working Groups (LWG) with teachers teamed up with researchers. In each country two groups with ten teachers each has collaborated with two researchers each. The teachers has been teaching different STM subjects at different educational levels, securing that the project on a European level covers all the STM subjects and primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education. These groups have been responsible for implementing the assessment methods in the classrooms and for performing the research.

WP2 was responsible for synthesizing existing research on assessment of inquiry-related competences. Based on these reviews they suggested a common definition of inquiry, an overview of the key competences within science, technology and mathematics, a common understanding of formative and summative assessment and a definition of these elements, broad enough to cover the general understanding within the research community and narrow enough to be a basis for reliable research.

WP3 has carried through a mapping of the variables for STM teaching, and identifying and categorizing Europe’s educational cultures according to these variables. This work makes it possible to adapt the findings from the implementation process to the national contexts and to synthesize the findings to recommendations on a European level.

WP4 has been responsible for developing the assessment methods able to capture the selected competences. The selected assessment methods are
• Questioning and other interactions on the fly
• Marking (grading and feedback)
• Student peer and self-assessment
• Structured classroom dialogue

Each method is described and different assessment tools (diagnostic tests, portfolios, student constructed interviews, rubrics, etc.) are included.

The project has decided to concentrate on one core competence within each of the STM domains and three cross-disciplinary competences. The domain specific competences are:
• Empirical investigations in Science (Planning, performing, analysis and evaluation of data, presentation and representation of findings)
• Problem solving in Mathematics (Collection of information, problematization, presentation and representation of findings)
• Design in Engineering/Technology

The three cross-disciplinary competences are
• Argumentation
• Modelling
• Innovation

Each competence has been defined and a learning progression has been proposed for each competence together with examples of how to teach for the competence.

WP5 has coordinated the composition of the Local Working Groups so that the teachers cover all subjects and educational levels. WP5 has also coordinated the formulation of national research questions relevant for the national context, but within the common framework. And finally WP5 has collected all the data produced during the three implementation rounds.

Potential Impact:
ASSIST-ME will provide policy makers with evidence based guidelines for changing educational policies in directions that promotes excellence in education and skills development within the field of Science, Technology and Mathematics. The main expected results and impacts are the following:

• An understanding of how assessment strategies influence STM teaching. ASSIST-ME will prepare a synthesis of the formative assessment methods which support aspects of inquiry teaching and learning, based on research literatures in science, mathematics and technology education. The project provides a report on the current state of the art in formative and summative assessment in IBE in STM, including the use of ICT based tools, for use in the other work packages.

• ASSIST-ME will rectify mismatches between educational goals and assessment practices by discovering, designing and testing methods that address the special process needs of inquiry learning. The project will examine and promote ways in which existing summative methods can be used to enhance overall assessment.

• Support the uptake of IBE in different European contexts. ASSIST-ME will synthesize educational system variables throughout Europe with relevance to formative or summative assessment and IBE in STM and map out the participating countries with respect to these variables.

• Supporting learning oriented STM teaching. At the school and classroom levels, assessment efforts often tend to focus on grading students, informing them about errors committed and determining their future pathways. ASSIST-ME will seek to investigate this problem and develop tools and mechanisms for addressing it.

• Validated methods designed to overcome negative effects of “teaching to the test”. ASSIST-ME will intentionally discover, reformulate, test and promote formative assessment methods which because of their position in a course (during the learning rather than at its conclusion) and role in student feedback will naturally force them to be in closer alignment with educational goals. Simultaneously, ASSIST-ME will work to align project tested formative assessments with existing summative forms so that they work together for teaching and learning and make full use of ICT potentials.

• High impact through clear communication. ASSIST-ME will secure such a communication by cooperate directly during the project with policy makers and other stakeholders. Reports for policy makers will address them in a language that is clear and convincing.

• Influential networks will secure change. With research evidence for a variety of educational systems we will work together with stakeholders in the National Stakeholder Panels on how to formulate recommendations for change in educational policy. This inclusiveness will assure national teacher and stakeholder involvement throughout the project and serve to align the research processes with the understanding and perspectives of the panels for enhancing the feasibility of the results.

List of Websites:

Reported by

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top