Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Nick L. Smith


assessment for learning, classroom assessment, educational evaluation, English/language arts, formative assessment, mixed methods

Subject Categories



This study examined how “formative assessment” (FA), a term that encompasses all of the assessment and instructional activities undertaken by teachers and their pupils to improve student learning, occurs in a secondary English/language arts (ELA) context. A sequential explanatory mixed methods approach, using a series of weekly self-report checklists about teachers’ assessment practices and semi-structured interviews, was used to address the following: (a) what assessment practices secondary ELA teachers use; (b) how these teachers determine what assessment practices to use and when to use them; (c) what these teachers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the assessment practices that they use are; and (d) how teachers determine the effectiveness of their assessment practices. For the purposes of this research, there was a focus on three major underlying elements of FA: questioning, discussion, and feedback. This study was conducted with seven experienced high school ELA teachers that were instructors in a concurrent enrollment program. The results suggested that the overall use of and thinking about assessment practices in a secondary ELA context aligns with prior FA research in other content areas, although the practices reported as used in this study seemed to be more targeted to individual students and their learning needs. In addition, the findings showed that there were statistically significant differences in the practices that the participants used from week to week with their students. There were also statistically significant differences in teachers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the assessment practices that they reported using with their lower-, average-, and higher-performing students. These results suggest that the instruments and methods used for this study are a viable approach to examining FA in a secondary ELA context, but additional research is needed into the reliability and validity of these approaches with other populations.


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