|Teacher Education for Transformation: The Case of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 73 p.)|
|Chapter 3: The curriculum of the HDE programme|
The assessment method varies greatly between the various components of the PGCE programme. The most common methods of assessing student teachers include examinations, tests, portfolios, and assignments in the form of essays with exams being the dominant mode for large classes. In fact there is a heavy emphasis on examination as evident from the allocation of 50%-60% of the assessment in most courses to examinations. One weakness of the programme is that given the intake of the students there is limited opportunity for developing academic skills through essay writing. In fact, is some of the theory papers, multiple-choice questions are still the preferred assessment mode.
A closer look at one of the test papers (Module 2 Education Theory 401 march 2000) shows that a great majority of the questions (4 out of 5) requires student teachers to remember and apply knowledge. There is a lack of questions requiring them to use higher thinking skills of analysing, synthesising and evaluating. This is in contrary to the aim of producing thinking teachers as expressed by the Dean of the Education Faculty.
A major problem of assessment is the lack information given to student teachers about the type of assessment they will undergo during their training. There is no Assessment Guide and the Student Guide 2000 only briefly mentions about examinations. There is no mention of assessment in any of the other documents including the Course Outline 2000 and course modules. However the Teaching Practice Guide does spell out clearly the type and criteria for assessment during teaching practice. A similar overall Assessment Guide would be beneficial to the student teachers as it will help them to focus their efforts towards achieving the aims and criteria set out.
With the drop in student numbers on the HDE course, there is a move back toward setting assignments rather than tests for the theory courses. These require students to search for information and also to show that they can apply the theoretical knowledge that they have gained in this course. In addition, exam papers focus on essay type questions which aim at evaluating to what extent the student teachers are able to make sense of and apply the knowledge and concepts that they are taught in the theory classes.