Topic 1 - Evaluation practices in STEM teaching

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For the first Community of Practice, the theme of "Evaluation of STEM teaching" will be discussed. After reviewing some of the latest studies on the teaching situation in Europe it was noted that one of the key findings in the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) was that, while for more than half of the EU teachers feedback can have a positive impact on their teaching practices, on their public recognition and on their job satisfaction (apart from helping increase their motivation and confidence), most teachers still consider the feedback received is only used to deal with administrative requests. Moreover, they also believe that the existing systems of teacher appraisal and feedback have limited effect on teachers and on their teaching routines.

Indeed, this is quite a big concern as it can hinder teachers' performance and decrease students' academic outcomes. And it is no less relevant when it comes to STEM education. In fact, the pyramidal structure of most science disciplines makes it essential to ensure quality training in initial education.

There are different ways to evaluate STEM teaching practices. Some are focused on student outcomes, like students pre- and post-testing or like longitudinal assessments of student learning (that will determine in what manner a pre-requisite class trained students for a future class). Student satisfaction surveys are yet another evaluation method -although not widespread- as they remain quite limited in providing evidence on student learning outcomes.

Others review techniques directly address teachers. These can include peer observation (and feedback) in the classroom or rubric-based teaching assessment (understood as a scoring guide with systematized responses containing several evaluation criteria) or even a combination of both.

Evaluations can also be carried out internally (that is, from within the teachers' place of work) or externally (usually in a standardized way and carried out by regional or national authorities). These can include external review of the teaching materials used or even assessment of teaching portfolios.

Open questions

  1. Are there any evaluation practices carried out in your country/school, at the moment? Of what kind? By whom?
  2. As a teacher, have you ever been formally or informally evaluated? Tell us your experience and your impressions on the process.
  3. In your opinion, which evaluation methods are more efficient or effective?
  4. Case scenario: Peer learning is one of the most common assessment methodologies for STEM education. What practices would you implement in your school to create learning spaces that foster a culture of peer-based assessment?