Approaches to assessing preservice teachers' learning in authentic and rigorous ways: the case of an inclusive education module

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    Initial teacher education programmes offer inclusive education modules that seek to prepare teachers for teaching diverse learners. While there is growing research on the content and pedagogy of inclusive education modules, relatively less attention has been given to the assessment of these modules. This paper focuses on the challenges of promoting authenticity, academic depth and rigour in inclusive education through assessment tasks. Drawing on Cochran-Smith and Lytle’s (1999) concepts of knowledge for-, in- and of- practice in education, we critically reflect on three approaches used to assess an inclusive education course over a number of years. The first approach required pre-service teachers to articulate their understanding of important concepts associated with inclusive education, the second required them to provide evidence of their ability to use inclusive strategies, while the third approach provided opportunities for them to participate in a research project about inclusionary and exclusionary practices in schools. We find that these approaches represent inclusive education knowledge with different degrees of conceptual integrity and provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to participate in authentic academic and professional practices to different extents. We conclude by suggesting how the assessment of inclusive education can be approached so that neither academic rigour nor authenticity is compromised.