Life Sciences teachers’ practices of informal formative assessment in inquiry-based teaching

Umesh Ramnarain, Thandiwe Dlamini, Garima Bansal, Thasmai Dhurumraj

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This study explored five Life Sciences teachers’ practices of formative assessment when enacting an inquiry-based pedagogy. The ESRU cycle (teacher Elicits a response; the Student responds; the teacher Recognises the student’s response; and then Uses the information collected to support student learning) was used as a coding system in the analysis of speaking turns involving exchanges between the teachers and learners. By tracking the strategies teachers used in terms of ESRU cycles, we were able to capture differences in assessment practices across the five teachers during inquiry science lessons. The findings of the analysis revealed patterns of teacher–learner interaction described as IRE (Initiation, Response, Evaluation) that are suggestive of ‘incomplete’ ESRU cycles. In the assessment conversations, there was absence of the crucial step of Using information about student learning in order to support students in the construction of knowledge. The findings of his study signal the need for professional development in supporting teachers in their formative assessment practices. This development can be in the form of workshops that focus on strategies for formative assessment such as those that are encapsulated in the ESRU framework. It is also recommended that best practices in formative assessment be modelled to teachers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2745-2762
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • ESRU cycle
  • Formative assessment
  • inquiry-based teaching
  • life sciences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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