The use of a short-cycle formative assessment observation protocol to investigate alignment between a secondary science teacher’s beliefs and practices : a narrative inquiry study.


Many secondary science educators within the United States describe a feeling of disconnect between their teaching beliefs and instructional practices. Whether dissonance stems from high-stakes testing or contention among colleagues regarding best instructional practices, this tension can influence how an educator constructs their classroom environment. Irrespective of an educator’s instructional approach, there should be alignment among learning target, learning theory, and pedagogical practice. Short-cycle formative assessment enactment within the classroom can be used as a tool to investigate the congruence between an educator’s beliefs and practices, facilitating the implementation of instructional adjustments that mitigate an educator’s feeling of disconnect. I conducted a narrative inquiry study to investigate how one educator’s assessment perceptions provide insight into the alignment between their beliefs and practices. Data sources included interviews, observations, field notes, reflective discussions, and other artifacts. I applied the crossdisciplinary framework (Kirshner, 2016) as a theoretical framework lens to evaluate the appropriate alignment among learning targets, learning theories, and pedagogical practices. I utilized the AssessToday Short-Cycle Observation Protocol (Eddy & Harrell, 2013) as a tool to investigate the congruence of educator beliefs and practices. Three main findings resulted from this study. First, beliefs on best instructional practices and assessment approaches can shift based on specific learning targets. Second, educators can use AssessToday (Eddy & Harrell, 2013) as an effective tool for reflecting on the congruence among learning targets, beliefs, practices, and assessments. Third, adding assessment and reflection to the crossdisciplinary framework (Kirshner, 2016) helped an educator alleviate feelings of disconnect between their beliefs and practices by identifying instances of misalignment and making instructional adjustments toward realignment. These findings contribute to the field of secondary science education, as the results support an effective process for science educators to not only identify potential misalignment between their beliefs and practices but also to make adjustments that can mitigate feelings of disconnect originating from that misalignment.