Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Brown, Sherri Lynne

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Tretter, Thomas R.

Author's Keywords

Formative assessment; Teachers' beliefs and values; Elementary; Elementary school teachers; Constructivist; Science content; Teacher beliefs


Educational evaluation; Educational tests and measurements; Science--Study and teaching (Elementary)


Formative assessment is frequently used by educators, but when asked to define, responses tend to vary widely. In essence, formative assessment is when teachers and students engage in instructional conversations discussing content information and gathering data about present levels of understanding. This feedback exchanged between teachers and students about knowledge gained is a critical element that provides structure and support to move student learning forward. For teachers who effectively use formative assessment strategies, it is the responsive element of adjusting lesson plans, instruction and assessments to give students multiple avenues to develop deeper understanding and to address student learning needs. For students it is the clarification provided by the teacher to link what was known, to what is known to achieve desired learning. In this study elementary teachers in one school district were surveyed by means of a questionnaire to ascertain their perspectives on value and implementation of formative assessment. Four teachers were selected for intensive observations of science lessons utilizing what each perceived to be formative assessment strategies. This study used a mixed methods approach to analyze data from three sources: a questionnaire, classroom observations and teacher interviews. Factor analysis and confirmatory structural equation modeling were used to determine the validity of the questionnaire about teacher's beliefs and use of formative assessment strategies; SEM also provided underlying structural relationships of formative assessment strategies. Teachers' value of formative assessment strategies strongly correlated with their reported use of same strategies. Regression analysis determined no significant correlation between years of experience and use of formative assessment. Interview analysis of case studies indicated that those who had a more student-focused or constructivist approach to science teaching, were more likely to effectively use a wider variety of formative assessment strategies in their instruction; conversely, teacher-focused instructors used fewer formative assessment strategies and did not exemplify those characteristics a constructivist philosophy. A Teacher Profile has been proposed which categorizes teaching behaviors that are more consistent with who embodies the knowledge, beliefs and dispositions about effective formative assessment. This profile has suggested uses for university teacher educators, education administrators, professional development trainers, and professional learning communities.