13 chapter 2 contextualisation assessment

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Chapter 2: Contextualisation“Assessment operationises our educational goals as much as it reflects them”(Murphy and Torrance, 1988, quoted in Hyland, 1998:vii).2.1 Personal ContextMy name is Siobhán Ní Mhurchú and I have worked as a primary teacher sinceI graduated in 1984, in Scoil Gharbháin, an all-Irish medium, co-educationalschool in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Since September 1997 I have taught thesenior classes (5thand 6thclass combined) in the school. I attended MaryImmaculate College of Education, Limerick between 1981 to 1984 and I recalllittle references to the area of assessment during my course of study.I began my MA in Education with UWE Bristol in September 1998. During mystudies I encountered Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner,1983) and I realised I needed to transform my practice, as I had been putting ahuge emphasis on the logical and linguistic skills in my teaching style,obviously to the detriment of other intelligences. By placing such an emphasison verbal and mathematical intelligences I sadly might have been condemningthose who do not have these abilities and therefore exposing them to acontinuous experience of negativity and failure in school, doing very little fortheir self-esteem and their self-concept. It challenged me, therefore, to think ofnew ways in which I could recognise all human intelligences. Having changedmy teaching styles to accommodate my understanding of Gardner’s MultipleIntelligences (Gardner, 1983) I came to realise that my model of assessmentwas one of limitation and in contrast I needed a model that would supportlearning, as different styles of teaching and learning appear to require differentforms of assessment.During my preparation for a previous module “Teaching for Learning” I hadlistened to a colleague speak in great depth on his use of “portfolios” withtransition year students in a second level school. The more I heard mycolleague speak on the subject the more I liked the idea. I felt it would workwell in a primary school situation and especially in my own situation as I teach14
the senior classes. I decided that this would be my new supplementary methodof assessment in my classroom. I believed that by introducing students toportfolios as a means of assessment in the classroom and by including a widerange of subjects, intelligences and talents among the contents of theportfolios, I would be moving away from the idea that one’s success inmathematics and linguistics are the only important successes in my classroom.2.2 Locational ContextI have been teaching in Scoil Gharbháin in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford forfifteen years. This school was founded in 1982. I began in 1984 as the firstassistant and I am now the deputy principal. Scoil Gharbháin is an all-Irish, co-educational school with seven excellent teachers and with approximately onehundred and sixty enthusiastic students ranging from the ages of four to twelve.

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Term
Spring
Professor
Eileen Schwartz
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