Performing an integrated assessment in English, mathematics and science

Presenters: Carrie Swanson, Jayne Jackson and Pam Perger

WG901

This session describes a novel interdisciplinary teaching and assessment approach in Initial Teacher Education. Best practice in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes can be constrained by tension between University policies, the rules and regulations of the professional body and procedures and actual practises in schools.

While an integrated teaching approach is common in primary classrooms, it is uncommon in the tertiary sector. During tertiary study students may learn the theory of connecting learning from different curricular areas.

This session outlines initial data about student’s learning demonstrated through an integrated Interdisciplinary assessment across three courses – English, mathematics and science. In this instance, course content was taught individually, and the assessments were designed to work across all three courses. In the first assessment, the lecturers role-played a teacher’s meeting to design an integrated unit for eight-year-olds for the ITE students. Working in groups and using a given scenario students then mirrored that experience to begin their integrated assessment task.

Student feedback was that they found the experience “most rewarding and challenging”. Several benefits have become apparent. The assessment design helped students build relationships, which was especially useful during lockdown as it mitigated isolation. It was quicker to moderate and mark the assessments as each lecturer graded their aspects. Only three group extensions were applied for (cohort of 208) and it appears that working collaboratively in self-chosen groups enabled the students to support each other to complete their assessments. Many of these groups are still functioning beyond the first assignment, developing a community of learners which has the potential to support both students’ academic studies and their growing teacher identity.

Working collaboratively is common practice in primary schools, so we were not only assessing curricular learning but also equipping the students for their future careers. Our findings will be discussed.