Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 5, Issue 2, Article 8 (Aug., 2004)
Winnie Wing Mui SO
Assessing primary science learning: beyond paper and pencil assessment
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Association between assessment and pedagogy

Teaching and assessment are inseparable partners (Lowery, 2000). Teachers can often check on the progress of pupils as they walk around the classroom, and Hayes (1998) has pointed out that assessment and pedagogy in teaching and learning cannot be separated: "assessment should be at the heart of teaching and learning?(Hayes, 1998, p.125).

The objectives of most primary science curricula emphasize the understanding of science concepts, the use of process skills, and the application of knowledge to problem solving and science activities. Lee and Fradd (1998) suggest that there are three components of science learning: knowing science (scientific understanding), doing science (scientific inquiry), and talking science (scientific discourse). These components also include the integration of science learning with learning in other subjects at school. Black (2000) highlights that the practice of science education in the classroom requires attention to other curriculum disciplines, notably language skills and numeracy. Moreover, many science educators have advocated the implementation of the constructivist view of science learning. The personal constructivist view (Osborne & Wittrock, 1985; Glynn, Yeany & Britton, 1991) suggests that the learning of science is a process of construction and reconstruction of science concepts. From the social constructivist perspective, learning is a process of socialization or enculturation to shared knowledge through interaction (Bell & Gibert, 1996). No matter it is personal or social constructivist views, pupils' learning relies much on the continuous assessment of pupils' understanding during the learning process.

Unfortunately, Novak, Mintzes, and Wandersee (1999) claim that there has been a progressive decoupling, or "misalignment," of instruction and assessment in science education. In spite of this, there is an increasing understanding that assessment and teaching are interdependent (Reinhartz & Beach, 1997). As teaching and learning are strongly related to assessment, Black (2000) suggests that assessment policies should be formulated according to the curriculum-pedagogy-assessment triangle.


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