Helping pre-service teachers grow their expertise in mathematics authentic assessment

Mathematics permeates every aspect of our lives, from budgets to patterns to the local weather. Beyond their achievement in math class, developing children’s mathematical skills in the early years of schooling can also predict their later achievement in science, language arts, and other subjects. Thus improving the quality of math teaching and learning in elementary schools can have a big impact on student success.

Helping teachers to produce well-designed mathematics authentic assessments is key to supporting students’ math learning. Rather than focusing on rote learning and test taking, authentic assessments in math require students to think, reason, and apply their learning in a particular real-world contexts or scenarios. This helps students demonstrate the various strategies and concepts they have learned over the course of the unit, as well as use other transferable skills such as problem solving.

Drs. Kim Koh and Olive Chapman have designed a professional development program focused on Authentic Assessment Learning Activities (AALA) for pre-service elementary teachers. The AALA was piloted in the summer of 2017. The program will support pre-service teachers in developing their knowledge of mathematics authentic assessment, mathematical knowledge for teaching, and their classroom use of authentic assessment. This knowledge will support them in their careers, increasing their ability to select, adapt, and design authentic tasks to promote and capture students’ mathematical literacy.

Over the course of summer 2018 and 2019, the research team will be hosting two 10-hour summer institutes. Designed for Werklund’s undergraduate students (i.e., preservice teachers), the institutes will include hands-on learning in mathematics authentic assessment tasks that are directly related to elementary classrooms. The students will learn the design principles of authentic assessment and develop math authentic assessment tasks using Koh’s (2011) criteria for authentic intellectual quality.

The researchers expect that the institutes will generate new knowledge about preservice teachers’ learning, as well as empower preservice teachers to grow their expertise in mathematics authentic assessment and mathematical knowledge for teaching.

As a first iteration, the institutes will provide insights into how to design a viable approach to building pre-service elementary teachers’ capacity for the design and use of high-quality mathematics authentic assessment. This will be useful in designing future professional learning programs to support teacher learning, and their ability to promote elementary school students’ mathematical literacy.

This project is funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant


See more from Dr. Kim Koh on her profile

See more from Dr. Olive Chapman on her profile


Connected Citations

Koh, K., & Chapman, O. (2016). Building preservice elementary mathematics teachers’ capacity in authentic assessment: Change or growth in conceptions and expertise. Final Report. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary.

Chapman, O. (2013). Mathematical-task knowledge for teaching. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 16(1), 1–6.

Koh, K. (2011). Improving teachers’ assessment literacy through professional development. Teaching Education, 22(3), 255–276.