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Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Nancy Dishner

Committee Members

Cecil N. Blankenship, Russell F. West, Russell O. Mays


Black and Wiliam (1998b) pointed out, "Learning is driven by what teachers and pupils do in the classroom" (p. 139). Their analogy of the classroom as a "black box" created the impetus for this study. The study was designed to peer inside this black box in an effort to identify and examine how third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade school teachers use assessment during hands-on science classroom instruction.

The overarching question as it relates to the hands-on classroom assessment is: What are the connections among teachers' assessment methods, feedback to students, and students' responses to the feedback?

This study was not an evaluation of the effects or outcomes attributed to the use of classroom assessments. Instead, the researcher sought to identify and describe classroom assessment practices, teacher to student feedback, and the interplay among teachers and their students in the context of hands-on science instruction. Classroom observations, semistructured teachers' interviews, and document analysis were used to identify and describe the methods of assessment used by teachers in hands-on science classrooms. A descriptive report of five themes derived from classroom observations. The interviews provided insight into local teachers' opinions and their use of hands-on science instruction and assessment.

An interpretive synthesis of the overall findings from the study determined that the role of assessment in science education continues to be an evaluative instrument for the teachers rather than a tool for learning. The participant teachers reported that assessmentÆs fundamental purpose was to document student performance. Evidence suggests that professional development will be essential for teachers to understand and use formative assessment in their classrooms. Equally important, if assessment is to be used to help students achieve, then teachers must help students use the information from the assessments to alter and advance learning.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.