Analysis of tests made and used by physics teachers in the assessment of physics in secondary schools of Kakamega district, Kenya
Ochanji, Moses Keya
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The study focused on the assessment practices of physics teachers at the secondary school level in Kakamega district. It examined the nature of tests made and used by physics teachers in the assessment of their students. The study limited its scope to describing the present situation as regards these tests. The choice of the topic was influenced by the increased emphasis on continuous assessment tests (CATS) at the school level, despite the emphasis and the much time spent on assessment performance in physics has remained low. Secondly, recent worldwide trends indicated a shift from terminal examinations to the use of teacher based assessment results in the evaluation of students. There was need, therefore, to study the assessment situation in Kenyan schools so as to describe this situation in view of the tests made and used by the teachers in the assessment of their students. In carrying out this study, a questionnaire was used to collect data from the teachers about their assessment practices and a checklist for the analysis of the tests. The questionnaire was administered to form three physics teachers in sampled schools and test papers previously used to assess students in physics were collected from sampled teachers for analysis. The percentages of the various responses to various questionnaire items were calculated and presented in appropriate tables. From the test papers the percentage of question items assessing various domains of science learning were also calculated and tabled. The study investigated five aspects of assessment; teachers' reasons for assessment, methods of assessment, domains of science learning that are assessed, methods used to assess each of the domains and response to the trends in assessment. Each aspect was discussed separately and conclusions made from the emerging findings. The findings showed that the teachers engaged in assessment for various reasons. Evaluation was done for formative and summative reasons. Diagnostic evaluation of students before the instructions process was, however, very low. It was also found that most teachers are aware of and are using a variety of methods in the assessment of their students. However, project work, which is key to assessment of creativity and process skills domains of science, was rarely used by the teachers. As a result the creative domain was also rarely assessed. It was also found that assessment in the affective domain was low. On trends in assessment, it was observed that teachers realized the importance of process skills in science. Assessment in this domain was more dominant and criterion referenced assessment dominated over norm-referenced assessment. The implications of these findings towards improved performance in physics and the use of teachers' assessment results in national evaluation were discussed and recommendations made. The key recommendation was the need to have a national policy to govern assessment in schools so as to make the practices similar. This should make it possible for the national examination body to reliably draw conclusions about the use of teachers' assessment records in the evaluation and grading of students.