Alison Gilmore

Each year NEMP engages approximately 100 teachers for six weeks to administer NEMP tasks. After one week of training, the teachers, working in pairs, administer the tasks to Year 4 and Year 8 children in five different schools. A further 150 teachers are engaged to mark those assessment tasks requiring professional expertise and judgement. They work in teams to clarify marking criteria and assess children’s work that has been recorded on video and/or paper. This study focuses on the extent to which these activities enhanced teachers’ professional development.

Participants were 272 teachers who had been engaged as administrators or markers between 1995 and 1997. Data were collected through a series of questionnaires, weekly diaries and case study interviews.

• Administering and marking NEMP tasks provided teachers with very powerful learning experiences about assessment, children’s patterns of learning, and their own teaching.

• Teachers found the experiences very rewarding—probably the best professional development of their careers.

• Teachers particularly enjoyed and learned from the close one-to-one interactions with children and the opportunities for interacting and sharing ideas with colleagues.

  • Teachers gained many new ideas about teaching and assessment to use in their own classrooms.

• Teachers felt more confident and informed about assessment, questioning techniques and instructions, and marking criteria, and gained a greater appreciation of the importance of establishing rapport with children.

• Teachers felt a revived motivation for teaching and exploring new ways to assess their students.

These teachers’ descriptions of their experiences were typical:
I did not view it as direct professional development but rather indirectly as a valuable experience in which I was exposed to different teachers and their views, methods, etc. I came away thinking that I was a reasonably open-minded, objectively oriented, child-minded teacher, who was reasonably up with the play—not the bottom of the heap or top of the scale, but O.K. (I was wondering, you see!) Also, that there were many aspects I could improve or be aware of and that I’d like some input into my school’s assessment processes.

The effect has been dramatic, and I believe it will be long lasting. After almost 20 years teaching and an endless list of forgettable courses, this came at a very good time. I had experienced two hard years and was feeling ‘shell-shocked’. This gave me the boost I needed.

Allowing children even more time for thinking seems the most significant idea this week. . . . Too often in normal classroom practice we are unable to give extended time for this purpose because of time constraints and the pressure of getting everything done. Perhaps this should be reconsidered.
[I have] greater confidence in talking about ‘assessment’, having had this experience.

NEMP is a very positive learning experience for teachers, contributing in significant ways to their professional development, notably opportunities for them to interact, discuss and share ideas with colleagues, to work with children, and to discuss children’s work. The NEMP experience also has enormous potential value to the learning of students because it facilitates teachers’ confidence and knowledge about assessment generally and NEMP tasks specifically, a situation that enables teachers to better understand the learning needs of their students and to design appropriate learning programmes.  


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