Educational Psychology

A framework for an educational psychology of assessment for teaching and learning is proposed, consisting of three dimensions: epistemology and theories, the interpreter and user, and assessment characteristics. The dimension of interpreter and user is equal in importance to theory and assessments, responsive to cognitive constructivism and the construction of meanings and beliefs, as held by teachers and students in practice contexts. Illustrations of the lines of inquiry and evidence that follow from this framework are given, drawing on research with teachers and using a particular assessment.

Validation arguments for assessments in a practice based context will be stronger when they are proactive and include evidence on the constructions of teachers and students and the meanings and use an assessment has for them in their educational situations. In this article or to say in literature review I propose a framework for an educational psychology of assessment for teaching and learning. This framework takes into consideration the current directions of the field, identifying boundaries and also supporting expansion of the set of theories relevant for an educational psychology of assessment. The importance of contexts is also recognized, and the implications of theories and contexts for the validation of assessments is developed. There is an ongoing dialogue about the definition of educational psychology as an academic discipline ( Scheurman, 1993). Two general perspectives can be identified, with a third perspective emerging.

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One perspective defines educational psychology as the psychology of education and the scientific study of psychology in education. A second perspective defines educational psychology as an applied field that takes on the task of testing the meaning and use of psychological theories or models in educational practice ( Klausmeier , 1988). A third, emerging perspective is important to defining an educational psychology of assessment for teaching and learning and to validation arguments. This emerging perspective is interdisciplinary, practice oriented, and field based. Several factors encourage this third perspective. These factors include renewed attention in psychology to the nature of education and schooling ( Berliner, 1992), the increased prominence of other disciplines in the study of education, and trends in the professional, curricular, and discipline organizations related to schooling and its reform and national efforts in setting goals and standards.

The existing domains in psychology are fragmented learning and cognition, development, instructional psychology, motivation, personality, social psychology, individual differences, and research methods/measurement. Thus, educational psychologists interested in practice have needed to interpret, integrate, and transform research for the practice of education. The extent of the transformations required are evident in the research literature on teaching and learning in the subject matter areas, as found in the third edition of the Handbook of Research on Teaching ( Wittrock, 1986). The need for integration is evident in the research on urban schools and their diverse students. Moreover, the fragmented study of individuals does not provide a viable basis for educational practice in current teaching and learning settings. As Shweder and Sullivan indicated, at least part of the current intellectual climate is “disposed to revalue processes and constraints that are local, variable, context-dependent, and in some sense made up” (1993, p.

502). Thus, current influences on the field suggest that educational psychologists are becoming interdisciplinary in their perspectives in at least three broad domains: (a) in psychology — across the areas of psychology; (b) in the major subject matter disciplines — those who are involved in educational practice (e.g., the epistemology and pedagogy of mathematics, including psychology when constructs such as met a cognition, self-regulation, and motivation are the goals of practice); and (c) in the domain of other disciplines involved in research in education — disciplines such as sociology, history, political science, anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics, among others that contribute to understanding and thinking about schooling, communities, and education. These ideas are consonant with comments by Wittrock (1992), Calfee (1992), and others on broadening methodologies and substantive areas in educational psychology. Given these current directions and influences in the field, the remainder of this article identifies the major areas relevant to an educational psychology of assessment for practice.

I propose a conceptual framework for an educational psychology of assessment for teaching and learning and briefly describe its major features. A particular context is used to examine the relevance of such a framework. The context is research examining teacher understanding of student responses to an assessment for use in junior high school mathematics classrooms. In the final section, I consider necessary developments in arguments for assessments that are valid in the context of practice, arguments grounded in an interdisciplinary educational psychology of assessment for teaching and learning. …