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  1. 1. Assessing the assessors How mentor teachers assess practical experience Alison Mander [email_address]
  2. 2. background to issues in professional experience – the structural issues <ul><li>Old program </li></ul><ul><li>Pass/Fail/Result withheld – discretion for additional experience </li></ul><ul><li>Provided Course information booklets to detail requirements and liaison personnel to assist </li></ul><ul><li>New program </li></ul><ul><li>Graded 1-3, level 4 unsatisfactory/ RW Course information booklets detail requirements and liaison personnel to assist </li></ul><ul><li>Specific scope and sequence grid provided – graduated demonstration of knowledge, skills and dispositions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Issues of assessment <ul><li>Mentor teacher judgement – what is this decision making based on? </li></ul><ul><li>Implications of the variety of professional experience sites impacting on students </li></ul><ul><li>Large range of mentor teachers’ experience in role </li></ul><ul><li>Various ways mentors are recruited in sites </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty of course examiner maintaining accountability, reliability and validity in experiences for all students </li></ul><ul><li>Do we all agree about skills in teaching? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Some inherent tensions <ul><li>‘ Mentoring’ versus the ‘assessment’ role </li></ul><ul><li>Apprenticeship model versus the collective professional learning / support model </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Payment’ versus the contribution to the profession position </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Gate keepers’ of the profession or professionals who can dialogue about their work and their thinking </li></ul>
  5. 5. Students say … <ul><li>‘ Prac was the best time in my whole degree’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I wish prac started earlier and we did less theory in lectures. I learned more on prac’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Prac confirmed for me I wanted to be a teacher’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I love interacting with the kids’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Prac showed me I can make a difference’ </li></ul>
  6. 6. The students also say … <ul><li>‘ My mentor is scary – she won’t listen to anything I say… She just walked out of the staff room without saying what I should do. I had to run after her’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ She said she wants me to experience teaching, as it is. I find her attitudes all so negative. She yells’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ My teacher is so slack, he hasn’t opened the booklet yet, he’s got no idea what I have to do’ </li></ul><ul><li>“ I hate it when she says things like, ‘why do you want to get into teaching – get out now’” </li></ul>
  7. 7. On the whole <ul><li>For Most students, professional experience runs smoothly </li></ul><ul><li>Most mentor teachers do a great job well beyond their remit </li></ul><ul><li>Most students experience a good range of school sites and different age groups over their degree, and gain professionally from this variety </li></ul><ul><li>Most students return from professional experience, excited, keen and empowered, with great stories to begin to engage their thinking and hone their practices </li></ul>
  8. 8. The new paradigm <ul><li>Scope and sequence detailed in booklets </li></ul><ul><li>Graded results from mentors to examiner </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty of comparison / levelling of results </li></ul><ul><li>Employing authority (EQ) ratings system </li></ul><ul><li>Pressure on universities to grade practical experiences </li></ul><ul><li>? Trustworthiness of these results? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Pilot study - method <ul><li>Collated student graded results for two semesters (4 courses) </li></ul><ul><li>Compared these to detailed written feedback from mentors and liaison </li></ul><ul><li>Compared these gradings directly with other student profile data from courses (expectations align?) </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewed groups of students about their experience to see what they valued </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewed their mentor teachers, liaison and school coordinators </li></ul>
  10. 10. Some initial findings <ul><li>Student results varied depending on the site and the mentor. Good students got good results, but often at level two. </li></ul><ul><li>Some mentors were loathe to give level one especially in early experiences (they can’t be a one!) </li></ul><ul><li>Some mentors believed in positive support and gave inflated results and comments </li></ul><ul><li>Inability to fail students- supportive </li></ul>
  11. 11. The interpersonal issues <ul><li>Personal relationships between student and mentor clearly influenced grades given </li></ul><ul><li>This advantaged some students </li></ul><ul><li>Initial early perceptions of students impacted on mentors beliefs about abilities </li></ul><ul><li>This exaggerated with-in school, and between school, variations </li></ul><ul><li>No clear direct correlation exists between gradings and written comments </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Professional Issues <ul><li>Professional Standards for Teachers – underpinning </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty of Education course objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Queensland College of Teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Education Queensland </li></ul><ul><li>USQ Graduate Attributes </li></ul><ul><li>And the personal; what mentors believe is important for teachers – their own biography influences </li></ul>
  13. 13. Some Vignettes <ul><li>With-in school differences (TEA 2204) </li></ul><ul><li>One student said,&quot; Kris gets to go to lots of different classes to observe. His teacher is relaxed about that and he’s done swimming and other excursions. My mentor won’t let me go anywhere. I’ve to sit at the back of the class and watch, and then says she can’t assess me till I’ve taught something. She won’t help me as she says she doesn’t believe in planning” </li></ul>
  14. 14. A Level One - TEA 4204 <ul><li>Inconsistencies - A Mentor teacher report said: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Donna worked through a long term plan with the unit overviews supplied” </li></ul><ul><li>“ With further practice Donna may be more confident to introduce different resources, media and technology” (Course Examiners are the enemy?) </li></ul><ul><li>Compare this with a student in this same class also on level one … </li></ul>
  15. 15. Level One – TEA 4204 <ul><li>“ Sarah’s planning has been excellent! Great effort and creativity can be witnessed in her medium and short term planning. Her major strength has been her personal reflection of lessons taught. At all times she has implemented appropriate technologies to enhance her engaging lessons. Sarah is a wonderful communicator. This is supported by her excellent vocal and body language techniques …” </li></ul>
  16. 16. Same context - same student – two results <ul><li>Level One </li></ul><ul><li>Renee needs to be more punctual but always finished on time. She plans well but needs to remember that her planning is for her and to follow it </li></ul><ul><li>Level Three </li></ul><ul><li>Renee never hesitated to participate in school activities beyond core hours. She developed a great relationship with the children and showed interest and value in all aspects of her engagement with them </li></ul><ul><li>Different teachers, one who believes a ‘three’ is quite satisfactory, the other that the student needs encouragement by giving a ‘one’ despite issues </li></ul>
  17. 17. A school decision TEA2204 <ul><li>Three students at one school all received level 3 – satisfactory (all other students got access to the full range of grades) </li></ul><ul><li>“ In this experience, we don’t feel that we can give anyone more than a satisfactory” </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers didn’t take the time to discriminate, or to provide a variety of activities from which they could reasonably observe the students demonstrate their capacities – </li></ul><ul><li>fairness? comparability? who is in control of results? </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Fourth Year failure! <ul><li>Bob managed to get successfully through three professional experiences, two of which required additional weeks to achieve competency. On each occasion, the school was encouraged to fail him by USQ, but couldn’t do it. &quot;We'll get him through!” (Teachers don’t like having failures) </li></ul><ul><li>Fourth and final prac the mentor wrote, “We had serious concerns when Bob contacted/ bugged us nearly every day in the lead up to the prac … he appeared to be grossly under prepared for employment in the near future. I was prepared to work with him but he was in tears before he taught his first lesson. He chose to terminate his prac . </li></ul><ul><li>Student said, I have been told that I ask too many questions … I could not prepare my lessons my way. </li></ul><ul><li>A terrible outcome for all – due to misguided support earlier </li></ul>
  19. 19. The SI rating <ul><li>‘Did you get your rating interview over coffee at the photocopier? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I go to State or Private school for my rating prac? </li></ul><ul><li>And which state school will I get the best result? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Some Analyses of data <ul><li>Mentor teachers do have a good sense of what is required – ‘gut feeling’ about their student teachers. Rough grained search, looks OK </li></ul><ul><li>At a finer grain – personal biographies of mentors becomes apparent, as influencers (Gently, gently, or the ‘real world’ approach) </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness of school context issues impacting </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘likeability’ of student – personal response to character becomes apparent – this influences how deeply the mentor probes the student </li></ul><ul><li>The diligent, but quiet student doesn’t go so well </li></ul><ul><li>‘ All will be forgiven if you charm the mentor!’ </li></ul><ul><li>“ I feel so guilty…” the emotional dimension experienced by mentors </li></ul>
  21. 21. And to the future … <ul><li>Further extension of criteria and standards descriptors that may enhance mentor teacher judgement about professional standards and so enhance inter- teacher consistency </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>Attempt to conceptualise the two- way relationship or dynamic that develops in the classroom. Assist mentors to be clear about the task/role </li></ul>