Kranich, Wittmann, and Alvarado on teacher content knowledge affecting assessments

Greg Kranich, Michael C. Wittmann, and Carolina Alvarado

Teachers’ conflicting conceptual models and the efficacy of formative assessments

2015 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings
Published Dec 18, 2015

Abstract: We studied a group of middle school teachers as they modified curriculum and developed common formative assessments on force and motion concepts. While designing an item and discussing goals for student understanding of acceleration, two of the teachers held opposing models (one of them being incomplete) about the implications of the sign of acceleration on the direction of an object’s motion and whether it was speeding up or slowing down. Failing to resolve the inconsistency between their individual models, the teachers wrote an assessment item for which both models would provide the same correct response, albeit for different reasons. The potential to elicit correct answers for incorrect reasons created ambiguity in the ability to recognize probable alternative conceptions. More specifically, the item had limited ability both to refine the teachers’ own conceptual understanding and to accurately inform their instruction, interventions, and feedback that would support students in identifying their mistakes.