Assessing Learning Skills and Work Habits in Ontario Secondary Schools
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Teachers in all Canadian provinces, and in many jurisdictions around the world, are required to assess elements of student performance other than academic achievement. In Ontario, these assessments are reported in a section of the report card called “Learning Skills and Work Habits” (LSWH). This dissertation examined Ontario secondary teachers’ assessment practice in relation to the LSWH. Empirical data were obtained through interviews, report cards, and an online survey to provide a better understanding of how teachers define, assess, and grade the LSWH. Relationships between LSWH grades and achievement grades, along with gender differences in LSWH grades were also examined. The first study used semi-structured interviews to establish a baseline understanding of teachers’ LSWH assessment practices, and to inform the development of the survey reported in the third study. The second study used Grade 9 and 12 report card grades from two different school districts to establish the dimensionality of the LSWH grades, to find correlations between LSWH grades and achievement, and to examine gender differences in LSWH grades. The third study focused on a single LSWH (self-regulation) and used interview data, report card data from a third district, and survey data to better understand how Ontario secondary teachers conceptualize and operationalize self-regulation. Findings from the three studies indicate a broad range of assessment practices are present in Ontario secondary classrooms, and that teachers make holistic judgements about students’ LSWH and use those judgements to inform their grading decisions. Findings from this research address a critical gap in the classroom assessment literature and are helpful to school systems seeking to improve teachers’ classroom assessment practices.
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