Exploring Students’ Knowing by Pre and Post-tests in Learning Studies
2016 (English)In: Social Justice, Equality and Solidarity in Education: NERA 2016 Book of Abstracts, 2016Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Research topic/aim: In learning studies, as well as in other types of intervention studies, pre and posttests are often used to get an input value of students’ knowledge, as well as a learning outcome value after a certain intervention is performed. Carlgren (2012) identifies the use of pre and posttests in learning studies as an aspect that indicates “comparing effects in terms of pre and post-test differences” (p. 11). According to Pang and Marton (2003), one of the five steps of a learning study is ascertaining students’ pre-understandings, by an analysis of students’ conceptions or a pre-lesson test on their capability. Since pre and post-tests often are emphasised as an essential ingredient in learning studies, the purpose of this study is to deepen the knowledge of such tests as method for exploring students learning, and as point of departure for specifying the object of learning and identifying possible critical aspects for analysing instruction. Readings of Nordic learning studies indicate that the pre and post-tests used vary from traditional paper and pen tests to, for instance, structured or semi-structured interviews, observations and video recorded lessons. Also the purposes for which they are used seem to vary. This calls for a more systematic review, in order to explore • What kinds of pre- and post-tests have been used in Nordic learning studies? • What has been the function of the pre- and post-tests in the studies? • Depending on the types and functions of tests – is there a need for issues of validity to be raised?
Methodology framework: Nordic databases have been searched to identify studies published during the last decade (2005-2015). Each study is read in relation to (i) the learning object(s) in focus; (ii) the information about pre and post-tests or corresponding concepts; and (iii) the purposes or functions of these. As a next step, these descriptions are read comparatively, in order to find similarities and differences, which are used for categorisation of types of pre and post-tests on the one hand, and functions of these on the other. (Expected) conclusions/findings: Some preliminary findings point to challenges, for instance that the relation between the object of learning and the tests used is often unclear, and that the validity of tests in relation to objects of learning and critical aspects can sometimes be questioned. If the purpose is to show effects of a learning study, such issues must be elaborated on much further. Also, the statistical basis for such analysis must be considered. If the purpose, on the other hand, is to become aware of students’ various ways of understanding the learning object and thereby the challenges for teaching, then the issue is how to explore students’ knowing. The preliminary finding show that the current study is important in order to further advance the learning study field of research
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Learning Study, Pre- and post tests, comparative education
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-29811OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-29811DiVA: diva2:1047183
NERA 2016, 9-11 March, Helsinki, Finland
ProjectsSchool development through teacher research – a comparative study on Lesson and Learning Studies in Sweden and Tanzania.
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2012-6147