Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Don Klinger returns to Research Project in Tanzania

May 5, 2017 

  • Students

    Students in a Tanzanian School

  • Teacher

    Teacher in a Tanzanian School

  • Classroom

    A Tanzanian classroom

  • Multiple choice

    Multiple choice questions

After a successful trip to Tanzania in fall 2015, Acting Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies in Education, Dr. Don Klinger recently traveled back to continue to participate in a research project that intends to strengthen the assessment skills of classroom teachers in primary schools in East Africa. The research, Teachers as Agents of Change: Focus on early years’ classroom assessment is being sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation and Global Affairs, Canada.

As part of the project, a team of educational researchers in Tanzania and Dr. Klinger are working with classroom teachers in rural Tanzania to develop effective assessment strategies. As these teachers work together to develop these strategies, their experiences and developing practices will be used to develop context relevant assessment guidelines for the region. Through interviews, workshops, and observation with teachers, the research team uses the teachers’ narratives to not only highlight the foundations for sound assessment practices but also provide guidelines for other teachers to implement these practices and strategies in their own classrooms.

When asked about the educational experience of teachers in the region, Dr. Klinger said he was impressed by the “amount of dedication from the teachers and students. The teachers want to develop their skills. And the students seemed very focused on their learning and were very attentive during class, even in a classroom with over 100 other students. The teachers are doing so much with so many fewer resources than we have.”

Dr. Klinger and the rest of the research team run workshops on assessment for classroom teachers in the region, educating the teachers about assessment tools and strategies including how to write multi-choice questions, how to develop learning goals and success criteria, and self-and peer-assessment. One humorous but interesting finding that Dr. Klinger observed in his work with these teachers was that even in rural Eastern Africa, the most common answer on multiple choice tests was “c” – over 50% of the answers to the multiple – choice questions the teachers created were “c”.

While contexts do greatly matter, Dr. Klinger found more examples of cross-cultural similarities in terms of teaching and learning. As Dr. Klinger notes, “Regardless of the time, resources, or class size, there are universal truths about learning. Teachers want to do a great job and students want to learn.” He is confident that this project will help teachers develop valuable assessment skills to help support teachers and students in the region.