Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

December 2007


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska iIn Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy; Major: Educational Studies (Teaching, Curriculum and Learning) Under the Co-supervision of Professors Margaret Macintyre Latta and Gayle Buck.
Lincoln, Nebraska; December, 2007
Copyright © 2007 Juliann M. Kaftan


This self-study examines the role of reciprocity within the formative assessment process in order to explore preservice teacher understandings of the complexities of the teaching/learning/assessment process. I study myself in relation to my practice in order to provide an account of how my knowledge of teaching is lived out in practice. Through the various chapters, I give the reader glimpses of my background and the particular situations that draw out theory/practice relations. The conceptual framework gives the reader an idea of the assumptions that frame my thinking. In particular, I articulate knowledge as experiential and perception as multi-layered. Self-study methodology enables a sharing of my professional history in relation to my practice by making the interaction of theory/practice relations transparent. The chapters on formative assessment and the depth of reciprocity share my knowledge in action as seen through the course design, materials used, social interactions, temporality of the daily schedule and pivotal moments. There is a recognition of the importance played by noticing the details and being open to the unexpected during these pivotal moments. Interaction, complexity and growth are seen as pervasive qualities that permeate the reciprocity of formative assessment when it is used to promote embodied understandings.

What emerges by studying the dynamics of reciprocity is the range of depth of understanding that is encountered and allowed by various students. A pedagogy of embodiment is revealed as being connected with the role of reciprocity in formative assessment. When formative assessment is used as a process to expose student thinking and foster interaction, the complexity of the teaching/learning/assessment interaction is brought to light. Students who actively attempt to give meaning to and make sense of this complexity, through the reciprocity of formative assessment, come to embody a new, lived understanding of the teaching/learning/assessment process. By examining how preservice teachers come to understand and use the formative assessment process, pedagogical thinking is illuminated. These insights gained may lead to a greater responsiveness between instruction and assessment and reposition accountability toward meaning making rather than knowledge accumulation.

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