This paper is based on a thesis submitted to the Aga Khan University, Karachi for a Master in Education degree. The research looked at the introduction of performance based-assessment in a science classroom. The current assessment in Pakistan is dominated by paper-and-pencil tests, which are passive, and mainly focus on knowledge content at the expense of process skills. The situation is worsened by use of assessment results for making high stake decisions such as placement and certification. This use of assessment for accountability creates pressure on teachers, which has lead to teaching to the test. In science, this has a backwash effect where science is taught as a body of facts mainly composed of terminology. Thus the key to effective teaching and assessment is to match the assessment tasks and the intended student outcomes and include multiple measures taken over time. This ensures reliability, as there will be information about the learner’s progress from a variety of experiences. The research thus focused on introducing alternative assessment embedded in classroom instruction to stimulate meaningful learners’ involvement in the learning task and provide opportunities for continuous feedback. The paper also discusses the notion of inductive learning – changing the mode of instruction so students become more involved in the problem solving process.
Assistant Lecturer, Institute for Educational Development, The Aga Khan University, Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania
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