Authentic assessment of problem-based, interdisciplinary, and competence-oriented science education: A reform and its first trials and tribulations

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Abstract

In Denmark, a new interdisciplinary agenda has been invented for Physics/Chemistry, Biology, and Geography in lower secondary school. Interdisciplinary integration around six major problem-based teaching sequences in grades 7-9 is now mandatory and a new oral end examination has been devised. It is interdisciplinary and shared between the three science subjects, and it has students (or student groups) working with an authentic real-life problem they themselves have formulated. Prior to the examination students are supposed to have in-class time to shed an interdisciplinary light on their problem, making guided/independent inquiries in lab, finding relevant models, explanations and perspectives from all sorts of material, and being supervised by teachers across the science subjects. At the 2-hour end exam students present their problem-solving synthesis, arguing with models and demonstrating relevant practical inquiries. The new assessment format was trialed with a minor set of schools during the spring 2016 examinations and made compulsory for all schools from spring 2017. Importantly, few Danish science teachers will have met problem-based, interdisciplinary, and competence-oriented teaching & assessment as part of their teacher education. In this explorative study we report how teachers and students perceive this new assessment format, and how it was enacted at the first compulsory take at spring 2017. Methodologically, we have used a convergent Mixed Methods approach, comprising surveys to students (pre- and post, Npre = 10299) and teachers (N= 781), interviews with student-groups and teacher-teams on 7 case-schools, and observations of preparatory phases and end examinations (N=36) at the same schools. Generally, students are positive about the new assessment as are the majority of teachers. However, 72 % explicate “worries” of various kinds. Our analysis identify critical challenges regarding the interdisciplinary and competence-oriented nature of teaching sequences that should qualify students for the examination. At the end exam competence-assessment particularly needs improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date16 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2018
EventXVIII IOSTE SYMPOSIUM: FUTURE EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES​ FROM SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVES - Malmo University, Malmo, Sweden
Duration: 13 Aug 201817 Aug 2018

Conference

ConferenceXVIII IOSTE SYMPOSIUM: FUTURE EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES​ FROM SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVES
LocationMalmo University
CountrySweden
CityMalmo
Period13/08/1817/08/18

Keywords

  • schools, courses and institutions

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