Portland State University. Center for Science Education
Date of Award
Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science
1 online resource (vi, 105 pages)
Science -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Case studies, Educational evaluation, Reflective teaching
Formative assessment probes, known as Keeley probes, are one tool teachers use to reveal students' scientific misconceptions, so that they can move them closer to conceptual understanding. The purpose of this research was to document how four elementary school teachers used formative assessment probes to plan and adapt instruction to improve student learning. Specifically:
- How did teachers choose appropriate probes? What learning goals did teachers hope to address by using the probe??
- What instructional sequences did teachers envision when planning to use a probe?
- What did teachers notice when analyzing student data from a probe?
- How did teachers use the information to modify their instructional practice?
This exploratory study addresses key issues by exploring through qualitative methods how four elementary teachers used Keeley formative assessment probes in the classroom through a series of individual and group interviews. The results, reported as case studies and themes, indicate that Keeley probes may be used to help teachers strengthen their pedagogical content knowledge and as an anchor for classroom discussions. Teachers reported that students were highly engaged when considering Keeley probing questions. Teachers in this study had questions about how to analyze data collected through formative assessment, and what instructional steps they needed to take to address misconceptions.
The central finding of the study is that a teacher's subject-area knowledge as well as the ability to identify students' misconceptions and make instructional decisions based on those ideas, both elements of pedagogical content knowledge, play a key role in how effectively teachers use Keeley formative assessment probes towards improving learning.
Ultimately, this study showed that while the use of Keeley probes did improve opportunities for students to deepen scientific understanding, a gap still exists between the potential of formative assessment and the practical work of integrating ongoing formative assessment to improve teaching and learning.
This exploratory study underlines the need for a new approach in professional development for elementary science teachers, and sheds light on what happens when teachers try Keeley probes, a promising formative assessment tool and strategy, in the real world of the classroom.
Tobler, Kalin, "Keeley Probes as a Tool for Uncovering Student Ideas: How Do Teachers Use Formative Assessment Probes to Plan and Adapt Instruction?" (2016). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2650.