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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

STEARS, Michèle  and  GOPAL, Nirmala. Exploring alternative assessment strategies in science classrooms. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2010, vol.30, n.4, pp. 591-604. ISSN 0256-0100.

The knowledge children bring to the classroom or construct in the classroom may find expression in a variety of activities and is often not measurable with the traditional assessment instruments used in science classrooms. Different approaches to assessment are required to accommodate the various ways in which learners construct knowledge in social settings. In our research we attempted to determine the types of outcomes achieved in a Grade 6 classroom where alternative strategies such as interactive assessments were implemented. Analyses of these outcomes show that the learners learned much more than the tests indicate, although what they learnt was not necessarily science. The implications for assessment are clear: strategies that assess knowledge of science concepts, as well as assessment of outcomes other than science outcomes, are required if we wish to gain a holistic understanding of the learning that occurs in science classrooms.

Keywords : alternative strategies; interactive assessment; interpretive assessment; range of outcomes; social constructivism.

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