Teaching high school English with Alberta's diploma exams : an assessment through oral research and dramatic re-presentation

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Hart, Loren Charles
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
Miller, Gerry S.
Van Orman, Ronald
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1987
The concern of this project is understanding what effects Alberta's Diploma examinations are having upon English 30 and English 33 teachers and their interactions within the school system. At first, a need is shown for educational literature which analyzes the relationships between mandatory testing and language arts instruction. The emergent methodology which the author used for conducting such research is recounted. He combined methods of biography. dream analysis, oral history, and ethnographic interviewing in order to develop a personal model for "insider" human science research. A surface analysis of the culture of two high school English 30 and English 33 teachers describes how Diploma tests, interactions with administrators and public concerns outside the classroom, interactions with students in the classroom, an integrated high school language arts curriculum, and a university liberal arts education help shape the behavior and thinking patterns of this culture. The emergent focus of the researcher and the data of ethnographic interviews with two high school language arts teachers are re-presented. retold, in the form of guerilla theatre. The researcher's initial concern for understanding the relationships between external testing and instruction expanded to include a complex network of interactions with students, colleagues, administrators, government test developers, university professors, businessmen, politicians, and the public. Each of these domains is symbolized by a section of an outer chalk circle drawn on the floor, with an inner chalk circle representing the interviewed teachers. The interrelationships between the teachers and the domains are mimed while a taped narrative dramatically relates interviewed teachers. the reflections of the researcher and the The purposes of the dramatic re-presentation are to promote understanding of how government administered tests have affected the culture of two high school English teachers and provoke audiences both inside and outside the studied culture to dialogue on the political and pedagogical themes which the drama depicts. An accompanying videotape of an August 5, 1987 performance demonstrates how the drama can serve as a catalyst for conversation and understanding. The project resolutions for ends with the author offering his personal continuing action. For him. this work suggests commitment for recognizing the complexity of the culture of English 30 and English 33 teachers. arguing against the myth that "every class must score above the mean," arguing for diagnostic testing services for high school English teachers, encouraging students to write essays and teachers and Alberta Education officials to evaluate student writing with the help of computer technology, and continuing the dialogue with teachers and various educational stakeholders.
vi, 53, 15, 28, 3 leaves ; 29 cm.
Educational tests and measurements -- Alberta , Language arts (Secondary) -- Examinations, questions, etc