Inclusive Formative Assessment for Diverse Pre-Service Foundation Phase Literacy Teachers

Inclusive Formative Assessment for Diverse Pre-Service Foundation Phase Literacy Teachers

Sibhekinkosi Anna Nkomo, Erasmos Charamba
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8579-5.ch005
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Many classrooms in South Africa are very diverse in terms of culture, gender, language, and intellectual ability. Thus, educators need to be inclusive in the way they plan for teaching and learning. This chapter attempts to show how teacher educators at one institution of higher education in South Africa implemented inclusive formative assessments in their initial teacher education programme. Traditional assessment practices like examinations, tests, and essays, which dominate many classrooms, have proven to be unable to capture the range and nature of the diverse learning outcomes sought from courses. In this study, students were given different assessment tasks to demonstrate their knowledge of the handwriting skills and pedagogy. Findings of the study show that teacher educators managed to accommodate all the students through their use of inclusive assessments. Teacher educators observed improvement in student's self-esteem, motivation, and engagement.
Chapter Preview


Research conducted in South Africa over the last 10 years suggests that there is a literacy crisis in South Africa (Mullis & Martin, 2017; Spaull & Hoadley, 2017; Spaull & Pretorius, 2019; Spaull, et al., 2020; Taylor, 2019). Twenty-nine percent of Grade 4 learners are illiterate, while 58% cannot read for meaning in neither their home language nor in English, which is taught as an additional language in the Foundation Phase (Grade R- Grade 3). More than 70% of the poorest half of South African children cannot read with comprehension by Grade 4. As a result, children face learning difficulties in languages and all other school subjects throughout their schooling careers. These learning difficulties are exacerbated often by gaps in the content knowledge and pedagogy of teachers. Such alarming findings have probed many researchers to focus on the teaching of reading in the early years. As a result, the teaching of writing and handwriting in particular in the early years has been neglected yet these are equally important literacy skills.

According to the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (DoBE, 2011) handwriting is an important skill which should be taught and developed from the reception year - Grade R-3. Preservice Foundation Phase teachers need to be aware of the perceptual development (Writing readiness) and the purpose of various stages of handwriting, letter formation, physical factors that impact on handwriting and the different writing styles (Handwriting Guide, 2019). Thus, initial teacher education programmes should make provision for the teaching of handwriting. In addition, it is expected that by the end of the four year Bachelor in Education (Foundation Phase) degree program, graduate teachers should be able to teach handwriting. They should have knowledge of handwriting skills and specific pedagogical techniques.

In order to teach handwriting effectively, preservice teachers must be skilled at handwriting and have pedagogical understandings about handwriting instruction (Arslan & Ilgin, 2010). For many prospective teachers enrolled in teacher preparation programs, handwriting pedagogy is a single topic within one three-hour course. In a study conducted with certified elementary teachers, Blazer (2010) reported that only 12% of those surveyed had taken an undergraduate course that addressed how to teach cursive handwriting. Similarly, in the course outline of the literacy course discussed in this chapter, handwriting is only taught over three- hours (2 lecture periods). Researchers feel that this time allocation is insufficient to teach a complicated skill such as handwriting. As a result, when doing their teaching practical in schools, preservice teachers avoid teaching learners handwriting. This is because they do not know how to teach this skill and they are not confident. However, to make sure that the preservice teachers have met the academic and course standards, researchers have designed responsive teaching methods and assessments bearing in mind the importance of inclusivity in diverse classrooms.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Inclusion in Education: Education which includes every student in the mainstream.

Pre-Service Teacher: A student who is in the process of preparing to become a qualified teacher.

Handwriting: Writing with hand using tools such as pens, pencil and chalk. It includes both printing and cursive styles .

Foundation Phase: Grade R (Reception Year) to Grade 3 where the foundational skills for future learning are developed.

Summative Assessment: Evaluates student learning at the end of the instructional period to collect evidence of student knowledge, skill and proficiency.

Teacher Educator: Someone who educates prospective and practicing teachers.

Assessment: A method used to measure the capabilities of a student at a given time or over a specific period of time.

Formative Assessment: A way of monitoring student learning throughout the course and provide ongoing feedback to improve learning.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: