Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Renee S. Schwartz

Second Advisor

Gertrude Tinker Sachs

Third Advisor

Patrick J. Enderle

Fourth Advisor

Jodi Kaufmann


Formative assessment is increasingly being recognized as a necessary process to improve instruction and enhance learning (Black & Wiliam, 1998; Herman, 2013; Kingston & Nash, 2011). However, the concept of formative assessment is elusive; its definition muddled in policy, practice, and research due to variable goals and perspectives (Bennett, 2011; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Dunn & Mulvenon, 2009). Paired with the dominance of high-stake summative assessment (Furtak & Ruiz-Primo, 2008), formative assessment compared to summative assessment is less appealing to teachers. Compounding to this problem is teachers' lack of formative assessment knowledge and skills especially in the new era of integrating components for three-dimensional teaching and learning advocated by the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) and the Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) (NGSS Lead State, 2013). The objective of this qualitative case study was to explore secondary science teachers' understanding of formative assessment and three-dimensional teaching and learning. Three teachers were purposefully selected to participate in the study. A situated lens as the conceptual framework guided the exploration of the research problem and the description of the relationships between specific variables identified in the study. Social constructionism informed the analysis and meaning made from the study, guided the adjustments and decisions taken, and directed the ongoing research to develop a detailed picture of secondary science teachers' understanding and practice of formative assessment and three-dimensional teaching and learning. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, observations, and documents (lesson plans and assessment tasks). Data analysis occurred iteratively with data collection. Analysis of interview data indicated that teachers understood the concept of formative assessment, and they believed that 3D teaching was a complicated process that required integration of the three dimensions. Analysis of observation and document data indicated that teachers were acclimating to the practice of 3D. They made small changes to their instruction and explored ways to assess students' understanding of 3D learning formatively. They constructed their lessons and assessment task with guidance from the performance expectations of the standard and were mindful of the necessity to integrate the three dimensions. Although cognizant of this synergy, they encountered challenges in the process. Insight from this study has the potential to assist teachers and other stake holders embracing 3D teaching and formative assessment of 3D learning.

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