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Making science practical assessments meaningful: An analysis of peer interactions in Singapore
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, San Francisco, 2006
This paper reports findings from a study investigating the impact of an
educational policy initiative in Singapore called „Science Practical
Assessment‟ (SPA). SPA is designed to overcome the limitations of
single, high-stakes examinations by placing emphasis on research
processes, entrepreneurship and the development of science practical skills
in a variety of contexts. Structurally, SPA repositions teachers as central in
the selection of items to assess, rubric design, scoring and moderation. At
the same time, SPA aspires to enhance learners‟ understanding of
scientific concepts and motivate them through hands-on activities.
However, the effectiveness of SPA is rendered problematic without
specific attention being paid to learners‟ needs and agentive perspectives.
This paper analyses the interactions that occurred when two student peers
(aged 13) conducted a science practical activity. The manner in which they
enacted their roles as individuals and co-participants within the structure
of the task set is contrasted with the teacher‟s instructional aims. Results
suggest that the objectives of SPA are realizable within a program of
collaborative and reflective practice that clarifies and rearticulates the
purposes of science practical work within the study context. Once done,
other elements in the laboratory can be more easily realigned so that
learning becomes more flexible and challenging. Our hope is that the
teacher development strategies and classroom practices illustrated in this
paper will inform a program of interventionist action in science pedagogy
and practical work assessment with applications both in and beyond the
study context.
Project number: 
CRP 28/04 PT
Appears in Collections:CRPP - Conference Papers

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