Variation in teachers' conceptions of alternative assessment in Singapore primary schools

Author(s): K. Tan, Kelvin H.

Date: 2013

Pages: p. 21-41

Alternative assessment is an increasingly common and popular discourse in education. The potential value and benefit of alternative assessment practices are premised on significant changes in assessment practices. Many alternative assessment practices seek and promise alternatives to tests and examinations. However, labelling a practice as 'Alternative Assessment' in itself is not a guarantee of meaningful departure from existing practice. Such alternative assessment practices risk retaining and perpetuating the same limitations and adverse consequences of tests and examinations they claim to avoid. Recent developments in the assessment system in Singapore have given rise to increased attention to alternative assessment as a means of alleviating negative effects of testing and high stakes examinations. The success or limitations of these attempts are helpful in understanding how alternative assessment can be understood and used in different ways, and how each way of experiencing alternative assessment may be more suited to supporting learning than others. In this article, the results of a phenomenographic study on teachers' experiences of alternative assessment in Singapore are presented. Three conceptions of alternative assessment are identified, each depicting a particular way of understanding and using alternative assessment in schools. These findings are subsequently examined in terms of the potential for teachers to understand and use alternative assessment to enhance students learning in sustainable ways.

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