A reminder Before considering what to assess, consider why and for what purpose Consider effective pedagogy, knowledge of curricula, children’s learning and assessment context Any perspective on learning privileges particular kinds of observation and data and has particular connections to curriculum Differing perspectives (eg dispositions and schema) can be compatible with one another There is no single ‘right’ or ‘best’ way approach to assessment. Approaches can be integrated.
Dispositions ‘Good thinking’ or ‘Good habits of mind’ (Perkins, Jay & Tishman 1993) ‘Habits of mind’ (Earl & Katz 2002) ‘Habitus’ (Bourdieu 1993) ‘Spirit’ (Siegler & Alibali 2004) Inclination, sensitivity & ability (Perkins, et al. 1993) Ready, willing & able (Carr 2001) Inborn, innate dispositions (Katz 2003)
Teachers’ reflections: children’s questions Dispositions are evident in learning stories (Carr 2001) Teaching stories (Podmore & May, with Mara 1998) can support teachers to reflect on children’s questions that connect to dispositions: Do you know me? Can I trust you? Do you let me fly? Do you hear me? Is this place fair for us?
Schema Derived from developmental psychology, but also informed by contemporary sociocultural approaches Cognitive structures or forms of thought, indicated by repeatable patterns of behaviour. Visible patterns of behaviour with ‘threads of thinking’ (Nutbrown 1994) Sense-making. Meeting minds. Motivation. Recognising schema helps teachers to understand patterns of thinking and behaviour (Harper 2004, 2007; Meade & Cubey 2008).
Skills and competencies Standardised tests and milestone checklists can yield valuable developmental information Remember to ensure there is clarity of purpose/ intent of the data-gathering, and ensure a view of child competence is sustained If we want to support children’s competence and expertise, we surely need to know detail about the extent of children’s skills and abilities Knowledge of developmental theory and typical progression is valuable in order to ensure that early intervention and support can engage; this does not mean expectations need to be imposed
Connecting skills & competencies to ECE curricula: Examples Te Whāriki – Communication, Goal 2 Adults will accept and support children’s early words, provide modelling of new words and phrases and give children time & opportunity to communicate Belonging, Being & Becoming – outcome 5 Acknowledges that educators ‘promote’ learning through modelling and encouragement, and through supportive contexts
Observation considerations: progress, continuity and context Progress examines whether a child can speak more than they could at an earlier time This is more important than simply counting words Continuity considers whether the child speaks these words consistently in different settings E.g. Grandma’s house, ECE centre Context takes into account who supports the child, or if there is a reason why some words have become significant
‘Needs’ Valid recognition of areas in which a child should receive support Can be viewed as a ‘right’ or ‘entitlement’ rather than as a deficit judgement How do we determine ‘what next’ unless we have considered children’s skills and competencies, context, and possible pathways for learning It is unprofessional to fail to engage. Instead: notice, recognise & respond reflect, respect & relate
An example of an integrated assessment approach Literacy learning story template and content (EASE Early Years Transition Programme, 2009) Learning story templateSuggested content and advice to teachers NarrativeEnsure pedagogical and curriculum learning is explicit in the narrative. What happened?Early literacy-oriented interpretations of the story above. Inclusion of literacy indicators. What might be next?Suggestions of possible follow-up activities rooted in dispositions/interests/competencies of the involved child(ren) NotesAdditional notes and comments about progress, continuity, context, and/or of emerging early literacy-specific knowledge.
Key terms Dispositions – the child’s inclination, sensitivity and ability to learn Schema – cognitive structures or forms of thought, indicated by repeatable patterns of behaviour in children Skills and competencies – the child’s developing ability to show mastery of physical, social-emotional and cognitive demands or tasks; competency includes knowledge, skills and behaviours related to a task