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ASSESSMENT TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES USED BY TEACHERS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF GOVERNMENT CURRICULUM IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

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ENUGU EDUCATION ZONE AS CASE STUDY

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

Background of the Study

 

It is a known fact that for a teacher to determine the extent to which learning has taken place in any subject, assessment must come into place. Government is one of the school subjects that require teacher’s assessment to ascertain the extent to which Government curriculum has been implemented. The term Government has been conceptualised into three viz: as an institution; as an act of governance and as a field of study. The focus of this study is on Government as a field of study. Government as a field of study can be seen as a discipline that deals with the study of the structure, principles, concepts and the theories that explain governmental practices of a nation and her relationship with other countries of the world. Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC, 2007: i), specified among others that the objective of government as a school subject, is to help the student to recognise his role as an informed citizen and his contribution towards the achievement of national development.

The objective of teaching Government is not only to enable the students understand the concepts and process of government but also to become active participants in the democratic process of the nation (NERDC, 2007: i). Nigeria as a democratic nation has been faced with a lot of democratic challenges which range from electoral fraud, post-election violence, insecurity and fraudulent practices. Others include poverty, corruption, violence, unrest and instability, and gradual erosion of democratic standards (Lafenwa (2009). Based on the emerging challenges, the secondary education system should be geared towards social and personal needs to create awareness in the recipients that promote rational thinking in democratic governance (Abdullahi, nd)). Ogunbiyi & Ojebiyi (2012) have noted the need for the study of Government in secondary schools due to its usefulness in fostering the political consciousness and inculcation of a positive attitude and understanding of the Nigerian Political system among youths. To this extent, emphasis on the implementation process of Government is necessary considering the wake of increase in antisocial behaviours among secondary school leavers (Idowu & Esere, 2009).

Implementation process of any curriculum, Government inclusive is known as the vital aspect of the curriculum. Onyeachu (2008), notes that no matter how well a curriculum of any subject is planned, designed and documented that its implementation is important.  If a curriculum is well designed or planned but not well implemented, the objective of the curriculum may be defeated. In order that any subject including Government achieves its purpose, the implementation process must be in tandem with the objectives stated in the curriculum.  It is expected that the implementation process of Government subject which assessment is part of, will take into cognizance those needed skills required to be an active citizen. Some of the skills are; problem solving skill, communication skill, decision making skill among others. However reports show that students’ performance over the years has been low (West African Examination Council, WAEC, 2011). Among the factors enumerated by WAEC that led to the poor performance include; poor knowledge of subject matter, poor communication skill and inadequate knowledge of current affairs. Others include incorrect interpretation of questions, lack of manipulative skills, poor knowledge of examination techniques among others (Nnaike, 2011). One wonders if these factors are not being checked in the classroom assessment. With this trend, it becomes necessary to look at assessment processes in the classroom.  This is because the only way through which learning can be measured and assessed is through assessment. Furthermore, in determining the extent to which a curriculum is implemented, much emphasis has been laid on assessment. This is at least to ascertain the learners’ level of knowledge and for certification as pointed out by Idowu & Esere (2009) and to provide the learners information on the quality of their learning.

Adeyegbe, Modupe & Ayo (2003), opined that assessment, learning and teaching are not mutually exclusive. This implies that one cannot talk of teaching and learning without assessment forming part of it. Good assessment is integral in achieving educational objectives for the learners, ensuring that parents, pupils, and teachers get the feedback they need to make the right choices about teaching (Brown, 2009). The New Zealand Curriculum (2011) states that the primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides.

Assessment can be defined as process skills that allow a teacher to infer student understanding of concepts taught (Badders, 2011). Thomas & Vincent (2001) see educational assessment as procedure or activity that is designed to collect information about the knowledge, attitude, or skills of a learner or group of learners. In other words, assessment has to do with collecting data on students understanding of a concept in order to move the students’ towards full understanding of more concepts. The sample may include behaviors, products, knowledge, and performances. Assessment is a continuous, ongoing process that involves examining and observing children’s behaviors, listening to their ideas, and developing questions to promote conceptual understanding (Badders, 2011). In order to determine the level of teaching and learning in the classroom, teachers use classroom assessment.  Classroom assessment is an important topic for study in today’s educational environment that emphasizes student learning and achievement.

Classroom assessment includes all the process involved in making decisions about students learning progress. It includes the observation of students’ written work, their answers to questions in class, and performance on teacher-made and standardized tests (Asia University, 2012). According to James (2003), classroom assessment is both a teaching approach and a set of techniques. As a teaching approach, the more the teacher knows about what and how students are learning, the better he can plan learning activities in order to structure teaching. Classroom assessment is the process of collecting information from students about their experiences as learners in the class. The aim of classroom assessment is to produce information that contributes to the teaching and learning process and assists in education decision making, where decision makers includes students, teachers, parents, and administrators (Lange,1999). Teachers need to know about their students’ problems while learning, their progress, and the level of formality they are operating at so that they can adapt their teaching strategies to meet the students’ needs. Assessment is a vital indicator of student’s capability and a justification for parents/guardians’ expenditure of scarce resources; the main assessment characteristics are determined in terms of its coverage in special knowledge, attitude, and skill development of the students (Gimba, 2012).

The principles of classroom assessment as noted by Center for Instructional Development and Research CIDR, (2011) include its systematic way of collecting information; its ungraded nature so that students can provide useful information and its call for response from the instructor. The main purpose of classroom assessment as noted by Angelo and Cross (2011) is to empower both teachers and their students to improve the quality of learning in the classroom. Continuing, Angelo and Cross notes that classroom assessment enable teachers become better able to understand and promote learning, and increase their ability to help the students themselves become more effective, self-assessing and self-directed learners. Nevertheless, assessment covers all aspects of school experience both within and outside the classroom (Idowu & Esere, 2009).

Assessment could be formative or summative assessment. Formative assessment is a range of formal or informal assessment procedures employed by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning to improve students’ attainment. Black and William (2009) defined formative assessment as all those activities undertaken by teachers, and/or by students, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged. Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2009) emphasised the role students’ play in producing formative assessments. They emphasized that formative assessment aids learning by generating feedback information that is of benefit to students and to teachers. Feedback on performance in class or on assignments enables students to restructure their understanding/skills and build more powerful ideas and capabilities. Ultimately, the goal of formative assessment is for students to develop their own “learning to learn” skills (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2005). Formative assessment enables teachers and students to take decisions during learning process while summative assessment occurs at the end of a learning unit and determines if the content being taught was retained. Summative assessment informs both the student and the teacher about the level of conceptual understanding and performance capabilities that the student has achieved.

Mostly, assessment is to be carried out in full and not in part.  Although the assessment strategies expected of Government teachers are not stated in the National Curriculum on Government, the National Policy on Education (2004:9) succinctly emphasized that “educational assessment and evaluation shall be liberalized by their being in whole not in part”.  It implies that the students’ behavior; attitude, interests, modes of interaction, skills, style of work and a variety of other non-cognitive factors will contribute to the decision made by the teacher on each student (Esere & Idowu, 2010). Furthermore, the Policy on Continuous assessment states that an assessment approach should involve the use of a variety of assessment instruments, assessing various components of learning, not only the thinking processes but including behaviours, personality traits and manual skillfulness.  Assessment should be objective, systematic, comprehensive, cummulative and guidance oriented (Idowu & Esere, 2009). By being comprehensive, it implies that assessment should consider all the various aspects of the child’s development (cognitive, affective and psychomotor) in the overall assessment of the student’s performance according to Bloom’s taxonomy of learning.

Bloom categorized the cognitive domain into six levels of thinking. These are knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The affective domain covers feelings, values, appreciation, motivation and attitudes. Psychomotor domain includes physical movement, coordination, and use of the motor- skill areas. It ranges from simple handwriting to drawing, handling of implements, apparatus, vehicles and equipment, playing of instruments and using keyboards (Idowu & Esere). These three domains are inter-woven in order to bring out the whole man. It means that students ought to be assessed about: what they know (cognitive); attitudes that they have taught (affective) and skills they have learned (psychomotor) (University of Auckland, 2010). The question whether the students are being assessed in these domains greatly depends on the teacher.

However, it has been observed by some scholars that often than not, teachers seem not to assess their students in all the domains (Adonu, 2006; Afemike & Egbekuse, 2011;  Idowu & Esere,2010).  Adonu, (2006) noted that apart from cognitive domain, the other domains of education objectives are often overlooked in the process of educational evaluation. Again, it has been noted that teachers may assess cognitive outcomes but experience difficulty when the affective and psychomotor domains are considered (Afemike & Egbekuse, 2011).  In schools in Nigeria especially secondary schools, Idowu & Esere, have observed that assessment is concentrated on cognitive achievement with the negligent of affective and psychomotor development. Continuing, they opined that this trend is connected to the quest for paper certification. The implication of this is that the aspects of affective and psychomotor domain are not considered in obtaining the certificate. Such a technique of assessment suggests that students be successful as a result of memorization of the knowledge or information required (Aksu, 2008).

Emphatically, an assessment of a subject matter such as Government needs to take into cognisance these three domains of learning. The reason is that for one to be an active participant in the process of governance, emphasis must be laid on those generic skills needed for functional operations in the society.  There are communication skills, decision making skills, problem solving skills among others. Students will be able to acquire these skills based on the extent to which they relate real life experiences to classroom. Here emphasis is being laid on the tools and techniques of assessment being employed by the teacher to be able to determine these and other skills in the learner.

Assessment tools are materials that enable a teacher to collect evidence using a chosen assessment method. They are the instruments used to gather and interpret evidence of competence (Department of Education & Training, 2008). Assessment tools enable the teacher to efficiently evaluate the learners’ current level of function, cognition, and safety (Lowa Geriatric Education Center, 2012).  This is to enable educators use assessment to both inform and guide instruction. This as well will enable the teacher determine change in behavior according to the behavioural theory (McNeeley, 2007). The relevance of the usage of assessment tools greatly depends on the type of assessment technique applied by the classroom teacher. Classroom assessment techniques as noted by (MacKeracher, 2011) are mechanisms for collecting information about the progress of students in specific learning activities and about how they respond to particular teaching strategies. Assessment techniques are those methods employed by the teacher in the process of assessing the learners in order to ascertain whether the stated objectives have been achieved.  Using a variety of assessment techniques, teachers gather information about what students know and are able to do, and provide positive, supportive feedback to students. They also use this information to diagnose individual needs and to improve their instructional programs, which in turn helps students learn more effectively. This type of learning will enable the learner construct learning according to the constructivist learning theory which postulates that the essence of learning is to enable the learner make meaning out of the knowledge acquired by being able to construct learning in the way deemed necessary.

The terms tools and techniques have been used by some scholars interchangeably while others see them as two different words. In this study, the terms assessment tools and techniques are used collaboratively. This is because the tools have to do with the instruments for assessment while techniques focus on the strategies adopted by the teacher. In other words, the two terms intermingle. Appropriate classroom assessment tools and techniques can help teachers plan or modify instruction, communicate important learning goals to learners, and result in corrective feedback about how to improve (Gimba, 2012). Ugwu (2009) opined that the things that determine achievement are instructional strategies and assessment technique. Some of the assessment tools and techniques include; essay test, objective test, rating scale, anecdotal records, checklists and questionnaire. Others are projects, assignments, observations, interviews, portfolios, and sociometry (Elui, 2008).

Often than not, assessment tools and techniques used by teachers range from administering of paper and pencil tests, oral or written, true or false, multiple-choice type tests, simple recall type tests and assignments (Idowu & Esere, 2009). These assessments most of the time test only the cognitive level of the learner. Although the cognitive ability of the learners enables the learners relate their previous experiences with the classroom environment according to the cognitive learning theory, testing only the cognitive ability does not enhance the holistic development of the leaner. As Alade (2011) rightly pointed out, no positive impact whatsoever can be made with curriculum review and development that promotes theoretical knowledge and places emphasis on paper certification rather than stressing the development of innate abilities and creative potentials in a learner evolving through training and practices. Although studies have shown that teachers face challenges in the process of curriculum implementation which could also hinder the process of assessment, assessment of one aspect of domain to the negligent of others does not augur well for the education system.

Studies show that teachers face challenges in implementing the curriculum such as provision of facilities, provision of instructional materials, and adequacy of qualified teachers (Onyeachu 2008; Owolabi & Onwuka, 2012). Other factors include; under-funding, population explosion, quantity and quality of teaching staff and time usage (Akpochafo & Walter, 2006). Similarly, some challenges may necessitate teachers’ inability to assess learners holistically. They include; large class size, lack of instrument for assessment on affective behavior and use of different techniques for assessment of students’ behavior (Awotunde & Ugodunwa, 2001). Other challenges include: poor assessment skills of teachers, poor test development skills and problems with measurement of non-cognitive variables (Mkandawire, 2010; Owolabi & Onwuka, 2012). Perhaps the use of the assessment tools and techniques may be hindered by many factors or challenges such as domain related challenge, challenges related to tools and techniques, teacher related challenge and facilities related challenge, the teacher as the implementer plays a vital role in the usage of assessment strategies.

Roth & Swail (2000) opined that teachers know how to design and use a variety of assessment techniques not just paper-and-pencil tests. Teachers play a vital role in the implementation process of the curriculum. Nwafor (2007:37), notes that the teacher stands between the “plan and execution”. This implies that teachers stand between the planned curriculum and its implementation. Furthermore, teachers are the agents for the effective implementation of assessment in schools.  To this extent, it takes a competent teacher to be able to implement the curriculum and apply appropriate assessment tools and techniques effectively despite the inherent challenges. Gimba (2012) noted that it requires hard work, mental energy, thoroughness and diligence considering large class size and diversity that characterized Nigerian schools today to be able to implement and carry out classroom assessment. Perhaps some teacher characteristics such as gender, teacher qualification and years of teaching can hinder the teaching and learning process as well as assessment processes. Studies have shown that gender, teacher qualification and years of teaching are associated with increase in student achievement across schools (Akinsolu, 2010; Abduliahi & Onosanya, 2010;.Adeyemi, 2011 & Fakeye, 2012).

Many studies have shown that gender is a significant factor in achievement. Akiri & Ugborugbo (2008) noted that gender influences teachers’ level of productivity in schools and therefore there are significant differences between male and female teachers. On the contrary, studies have also indicated that gender is not a factor in teachers’ perception of difficult topics (Edu, Edu & Kalu, 2012). This therefore implies that both male and female teachers perceive topics from the same direction. By this assertion, it implies that both male and female teachers tend to teach and assess the learners without any gender influence. The implication of distinct results on the influence of gender on teachers is that the results are not consistent. Based on this, this study tends to determine the extent to which gender affect teachers’ use of assessment tools and techniques.

Teacher qualification is vital to the development of any education system. This implies that the qualification of a teacher matters when effectiveness is emphasised in teaching and learning.  Academic qualifications have been noted as one of the factors that have effective impact on the teaching and learning process (Umar-ud-Din, Khan, &  Mahmood, 2010). Abdullahi (nd) noted that the availability of well qualified teaching- staff especially at the secondary school level is a pre-requisite to the development and acquisition of high technological skill needed to develop a nation.  A qualified teacher is expected to know the methods to use both in the process of instruction and assessment. This is to ensure that the learning environment will enable the learner construct meaning from the learning experiences. The researcher therefore considers qualification as an important factor in assessment and so intends to determine the extent to which it affects on teachers of government in the use of assessment tools and techniques.

Sequel to qualification is years of teaching experience. The importance of experience in teaching has been perceived as being necessary for effective operation of schools. In other words, experience enhances teaching and learning process. Owolabi (2007), opined that government should find all possible means to retain veteran and experienced teachers who are still willing to serve so that they can contribute their wealth of experience to improving the system. In the same vein, Akinsola (2010) asserted that teacher’s years of experience is a measure of quality and thus becomes imperative in the achievement of students’ academic performance. Continuing, Akinsola advocated that experienced teachers need to be retained in schools if higher productivity is to be obtained because learners achieved more from these teachers. Report shows that poor teaching process exhibited by inexperienced teachers is among the many problems of educational development in Nigeria (Tahir in Adeyemi, 2011). Consequent upon this, the researcher takes cognizance of this factor as having influence on teacher effectiveness and intends to determine how this factor determines teachers’ use of assessment tools and techniques.

In preview of the prevailing situation, there is the need to be conscious of the assessment tools and techniques used by teachers so that the actual intended educational objectives can be achieved. It is on this premise that this study is worrisome.

Statement of the Problem

Nigeria introduced Continuous Assessment (CA) and one of the mandatory qualities of CA is that assessment must be comprehensive. This comprehensiveness demands that varieties of assessment tools and techniques be used to collect information covering all the intended learning outcomes. By this policy, teachers are expected to be assessing all the three domains of learning using varieties of assessment tools and techniques. The essence is to ensure that the students acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes required. This will enable them perform well both in internal and external examinations and also become useful members in the society.

Despite this, it has been reported that students perform low in their external examinations. In view of the fact that there are varieties of assessment tools and techniques that could facilitate the assessment of Government and which teachers ought to be using, one wonders if teachers actually assess students with these tools and techniques and how often they assess students in the three areas of education domains. Therefore, the question is what are the assessment tools and techniques used by teachers in assessing the learners?

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to find out the assessment tools and techniques used by teachers in the implementation of government curriculum in secondary schools. Specifically the study sought to;

  1. Identify the assessment tools and techniques used by teachers in the implementation of Government curriculum.
  2. Determine areas of behavior teachers assess as cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains.
  3. Determine the extent to which gender affect teachers’ usage of assessment tools and techniques in the implementation of Government curriculum.
  4. Ascertain the extent to which qualification affect teachers’ usage of assessment tools and techniques in the implementation of Government curriculum.
  5. Determine the extent to which years of teaching experience affect teachers’ usage of assessment tools and techniques in the implementation of Government curriculum.
  6. Identify the challenges faced by teachers in the use of assessment tools and techniques.

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study are expected to be beneficial to the teacher, the learner, the curriculum planners and the society in general.

Teachers are the implementers. A research into the assessment tools and techniques used by teachers especially at the secondary school level of education will enhance constructive understanding of the varieties of assessment tools and techniques needed for assessment. Teachers of Government will find this study useful because it will help to increase the teachers’ level of awareness and understanding of some of the issues surrounding the use of assessment tools and technique, thereby providing a basis for improvement in their instructional practice in order to enhance performance. The findings may give insight to the teachers that the learners’ ability to perform well both in internal and external examinations should be based on assessing the three domains of education. The study may also if need be suggest for organization of seminars, in-service training/ workshop for teachers on assessment procedure.

On the aspect of the learners, the findings of this study will expose the learners to different assessment tools and techniques through their use by teachers. This will enable them perform well both in their internal and external examinations especially in enabling them know examination techniques. Assessment in the three domains will enhance their knowledge, attitude and acquisition of skills needed for their development. Having been exposed to different and appropriate assessment tools and techniques, the learner will have mastered the skills needed in Government which will inform his opinion in political processes.

A study of this nature if published may enable the curriculum planners to embark on reforms necessary to improve upon common assessment measures in the education system. An empirical data of this nature will enable the Curriculum planners and evaluators as well as government and educational administrators to facilitate appropriate curricular policies and programmes for effective teaching and learning. This may have advantage of giving teachers clear models of acceptable outcomes

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