An investigation of performance-based assessment in science in Saudi primary schools

Al-Sadaawi, Abdullah Saleh (2007) An investigation of performance-based assessment in science in Saudi primary schools. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This study was undertaken to develop a performance-based assessment approach in science learning and to investigate its effects on students' achievement and attitudes toward science as well as the readiness of Saudi primary schools in relation to its implementation. The approach links the assessment methods to cognitive and social constructivist learning theories and science curriculum reforms. Twelve science classes comprising 289 primary school students and six teachers in the city of Riyadh formed the sample for the study. Six classes were randomly selected and were instructed using a performance-based assessment approach. A second cohort of six classes was instructed traditionally as control groups. The same teachers directed both experimental and control groups for nine weeks. Data were collected by different tools involving tests, interviews, and questionnaires. Science tests and Students' Attitudes toward Science Survey were administered as pre- and post-tests to evaluate the control and experimental groups. The Teacher Performance Assessment Questionnaire (TPAQ) was applied as pre- and post-tests for the science teachers' responses to the program. Interviews involving all six teachers and 12 randomly-selected students were conducted at the end of the nine week period. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were applied to the collected data. Quantitative analysis involved both descriptive and inferential analyses using means, standard deviations, and parametric tests; whilst QRS Nvivo was used as the coding method for qualitative analyses. The results of quantitative analysis showed that students in the experimental group had significantly higher scores in the science post-test than the students in the control groups. There was also a significant attitudinal difference towards science between the experimental and control groups in favour of the experimental group. The performance-based assessment procedures were found capable of predicting approximately 23 per cent of variation in the students' final science test scores. Qualitative analysis' results from the teachers' data indicated that they evaluated performance-based assessment approach highly: it gave students the opportunity to be active, and interactive, and greater responsibility toward learning. In addition, the teachers responded well to the experimental program and reported they had received professional development: formulating open ended questions, administering groups, designing experiments and using formative assessments. They considered changes to classroom practices to incorporate these factors from performance-based assessment and give students more opportunity for control over their learning. The result of the paired sample t-test showed no significant improvement on teachers' assessment standards as measured by the TPAQ, whereas the effect size indicated a large change in teachers' performance. Teachers reported some disadvantages of performance-based assessment. Teachers reported that it was time consuming, required extra work, was difficult to assess, and did not fit into the current Saudi school environment. Qualitative analysis of the students' data showed that students from the experimental groups found the performance assessment approach an opportunity for greater control over learning processes, to actively participate in the science class, and importantly, group work encouraged them to work cooperatively. Students reported performance-based assessment was useful, and this study's results confirmed that the processes undertaken supported self-efficacy development.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Keywords science, primary schools, Saudi Arabia, learning, performance-based assessment
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login