Equality of condition and assessment in the secondary school choral classroom
Ferrari, Brendan Michael
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Equality of condition (Lynch & Baker, 2005) is “the belief that people should be as equal as possible in relation to the central conditions of their lives” (p. 132). Those who strive for equality of condition aim to equalize people’s options in a given situation. In education, inequality may result when teachers assess their students without considering equality of condition's five dimensions: resources; respect and recognition; love, care and solidarity; power; and working and learning. The purpose of this study was to examine how five secondary school chorus teachers create and implement assessments (musically or participatory) for their students, and if/how their views of assessment evolve as a result of their collective understanding of the five dimensions of equality of condition. The following questions guided the study: 1. How did the participants assess students at the beginning of the study? 2. Did participants’ perceptions of student assessment evolve over the course of the study, and if so, how? 3. Did participants modify their student assessments to align with the dimensions of equality of condition over the study’s duration? If so, how? Participants met in a collaborative teacher study group; data sources included meeting transcripts, journal entries, and sample assessments. The data were analyzed using descriptive coding (Saldaña, 2016) and axial coding (Merriam, 2009) to address the research questions. In total, four themes emerged from the data as being central to views on assessment and equality of condition: teaching philosophy, student relationships, democracy, and motivation. Four participants reported their philosophies had changed and two reported they adjusted assessments as a result of this study. Participants indicated barriers were time needed to plan and modify assessments, isolation as a result of being the only or one of only a few music educators in their buildings, and sharing control in a democratic classroom environment. The implications for these findings suggest that teachers are implementing formal assessments inconsistently; therefore, inequality of condition in the classroom regarding assessment may be present.
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