Compromised physics teaching: Assessment driven teaching

Isaac Buabeng, Lindsey Conner, David Winter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this study, four New Zealand (NZ) physics teachers' conceptions about teaching are compared in relation to their physics' teaching practices. Case studies have been used to present the analysis of themes as well as a platform to discuss the system enablers and constraints that influenced their practices in action. The conceptions, beliefs, and/or views held by four exemplary physics teachers have been identified and compared, and more importantly, the contextual factors have been identified that support or constrain teachers enacting their beliefs. The main constraint was the current content-driven assessment for Senior High School physics. As well, the teachers compromised their beliefs about teaching due to additional contextual constraints. Lack of time to prepare interactive activities and the emphasis on knowledge recall in external high stakes assessments rendered their desire for "minds on" approaches that included building on the key competencies of the curriculum practically impossible to implement. It is proposed that until assessment changes from a heavy emphasis on conceptual understanding to assessing inquiry and problem-solving skills, teachers will continue to focus on what is assessed and rightly so, align their teaching approaches to what is valued by the system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhysics teaching and learning
Subtitle of host publicationChallenging the paradigm
EditorsDennis S. Sunal, Jonathan T. Shemwell, James W. Harrell, Cynthia S. Sunal
Place of PublicationCharlotte, NC
PublisherInformation Age Publishing Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781641136587
ISBN (Print)9781641136563, 9781641136570
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameResearch in Science Education
PublisherInformation Age Publishing


  • Physics teaching
  • Senior high school physics
  • Assessment
  • New Zealand
  • Teaching practice
  • Teaching professional development


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