Experimenting with the structured assessment dialogue in physics and mathematics classes
Teacher–student discussions are central in assessing students’ skills and knowledge. This study deals with formal, pre-planned discussions to assess students’ inquiry competences. The method is called the structured assessment dialogue (SAD) which combines formative and summative assessment. Six SAD sessions (4 lower secondary physics and 2 upper secondary math) were implemented at the end of inquiry lessons. The SAD sessions were video recorded and the discussions were analyzed using theory based categories and networks. The results showed that the truly novel SAD method in Finnish classrooms challenged teachers and students. For example, students usually gave lower order answers although the teacher asked higher order questions. Lower and upper secondary level dialogues had different characteristics. In the lower secondary, the teacher struggled to engage students by using what students themselves had said. In the upper secondary, the teacher focused on addressing a particular idea, which turned out to be difficult for the student. Despite the challenges, SAD could be a useful method in Finnish schools if teachers and student would get used to it.