Teachers’ Use of Formative Assessment for the Teaching of Reading Comprehension in Grade 3
AbstractThe low reading performance levels of Grade 3 learners in South African schools prompted this research, which was a qualitative and interpretative case study focusing on teachers’ use of formative assessment when teaching reading comprehension to Grade 3 siSwati-speaking learners. Data was collected in semi-structured interviews with seven teachers at four primary schools in the Mpumalanga province and through lesson observations and analysis of learners’ workbooks. Interviews were taped and transcribed. Data from the three sources was analysed and reported in an integrated way through themes. The conceptual framework was developed from various theories and concepts, namely Vygotsky’s theory of learning and socio-cultural perspective (1978), Engeström’s activity system model (1987) and the formative assessment process (Harlen, 2000; Ruiz-Primo, 2011; Birenbaum, Kimron, Shilton & Shahaf-Barzilay, 2009). Evidently, effective use of formative assessment for reading comprehension requires collaboration between teachers and learners, teachers who possess the requisite knowledge of teaching reading comprehension as well as of pedagogy, and the involvement of learners in the assessment. Numerous impediments to effective formative assessment were identified: teachers’ lack of knowledge of teaching reading comprehension and formative assessment, failure to plan its use, to set clear goals and to explain how to reach them, lack of feedback to learners and no development of learner self-assessment. External factors included a lack of materials for teaching reading to siSwati-speaking learners. It is recommended that the respective departments of education should train Foundation Phase teachers in the necessary skills to teach reading comprehension and provide a variety of suitable reading materials.
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