• science teacher education;
  • teacher education—prospective teachers;
  • action research;
  • college/university


The purpose of this pragmatic action research study was to explore our re-conceptualization efforts in preparing pre-service teachers to guide the inquiry process with formative assessment and subsequently use the understandings to improve our teacher preparation program. The process was guided by two questions: to what extent did course re-conceptualization efforts lead to a more informed understanding of formative assessment by pre-service teachers and did strategies enacted in the re-conceptualized methods course foster or hinder pre-service teachers' understanding of formative assessment? Data from this study support the following findings: (1) a substantial pre- to post-methods course difference was realized in the pre-service teachers' understanding of formative assessment; (2) explicit and contextualized approaches to formative assessment in the methods course led to increased understandings by pre-service teachers; (3) an implicit approach led to improvements in course structure but did not foster pre-service teachers' understanding of the reflexive nature of formative assessment; and (4) a field-based case study on elementary science teaching both hindered and fostered our efforts with formative assessment. This study yields implications for pre-service teacher education on formative assessment. To foster pre-service teachers' knowledge and skills, we suggest explicit instruction on formative assessment combined with case studies, field experiences, and ongoing reflection. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47: 402–421, 2010