Learning Formative Assessment in the Field: Analysis of Reflective Conversations Between Preservice Teachers and Their Classroom Mentors

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International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education


Purpose: It is suggested that mentor teachers engage in reflective conversations with preservice teachers to develop formative assessment as a teaching skill. However, there is minimal evidence documenting this process. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the process and impact of reflective conversation on preservice teachers’ learning about implementing formative assessment in the classroom. Design/methodology/approach: This study draws on two dyads of mentor and preservice teachers to examine the role of conversation in helping preservice teachers learn to use formative assessment in elementary classrooms in the USA. A comparative case study method is used to analyze and synthesize the similarities, differences and patterns across both cases. Findings: Qualitative data indicate that reflective conversations enable preservice teachers to reflect on their teaching practices and learn how to conduct formative assessment. However, a lack of critical reflection in the conversations results in generic solutions that do not focus on specific aspects of student learning. Practical implications: This study suggests that mentor teachers using reflective conversation to guide preservice teacher’s critical analysis of their prior assumptions and teaching practices while referencing actual student learning is an essential element in learning to use formative assessment in the classroom. Originality/value: This study contributes to the line of research that explores conversation between mentor and preservice teachers and provides an empirical analysis of conversations focused on learning to use formative assessment in elementary classrooms.


Teacher education; Conversation; Critical reflection; Formative assessment


Teacher Education and Professional Development



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