Département des sciences de l’éducation
Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada
Département des sciences de l’éducation
Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada
Département des sciences de l’éducation
Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada
Following the 2003 curricular reform, assessment in Quebec has been governed by three
overarching values: justice, equality, and equity (MEQ, 2003). Those values find their origin
in inclusive education, which promotes a competency-based assessment and the success of all
students (Akkari and Barry, 2018). However, with the return to numerical results, research has
shown that teachers still favoured a summative assessment approach thus failing to uphold the
core values of the programme (Hadji, 2015; Issaieva and Crahay, 2010). Consequently,
teachers' evaluation practices still classify students as "good" or "bad" depending on their
results. How can this situation be modified? In order to find answers to this problem,
collaborative research (Desgagné, 2001) with seven elementary school teachers was realized
from 2016 to 2018. The results of the focus-groups identified avenues to develop a more
inclusive form of assessment. This article offers a reflection on the importance of teachers’
understanding of disciplinary epistemology as the key to gaining greater freedom in assessment
practices and thus promoting a more inclusive form of assessment.
Keywords: assessment, assessment practices, inclusive assessment, inclusive education.
1. Inclusive Education: Teaching and Assessment Practices
Education is considered a human right by numerous countries in the world (UNESCO,
2019). In the Canadian province of Quebec, Le Conseil Supérieur de l’Éducation published in
2017 a report in which it states that education should aim at including all children and support
them whoever they are and whatever their needs be (Conseil supérieur de l’éducation, 2017).
The overall objective is to ensure that the education system becomes more inclusive meaning
that all children learn together in the same schools (UNICEF, 2017) as requested by UNESCO:
All students can access and fully participate in learning, supported by
reasonable accommodation and teaching strategies tailored to meet their
individual needs. The concept of inclusion is part of all aspects of school
life and supported by culture and policies (UNESCO, 2019, p. 6).
In inclusive education, no child should be excluded and teachers should accommodate
individual needs so that all have an equal chance to succeed. But, in reality, this intent is a
challenge for teachers who work every day with increasingly diverse classrooms. This is
particularly evident when teachers are tasked with assessing their students. Following the 2003
E-ISSN: 2676-1750 Journal of Studies in Language, Culture and Society 03(02), 2020 (pp. 26-40)
Received: 17-05-2020 Accepted: 15-06-2020 Published: 30-06-2020
PROMOTING INCLUSIVE EDUCATION PRACTICES IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
THROUGH FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT
curricular reform, assessment in Quebec
has been governed by three overarching values:
Justice, equality, and equity (MEQ, 2003). These values underline the right for a student to
appeal any assessment which would appear unfair, to have equal opportunities to demonstrate
their learning and to expect assessment practices that respect the differences found between
students. These values find their origin in inclusive education and aim for a differentiate
approach to assessment ensuring that all students might achieve their rightful educational
success (Akkari & Barry, 2018). Since the 1960’s, research in education has promoted a form
of assessment that supports student by providing them with information on their learning
progression (Scriven, 1967). The idea behind this is that assessment must, above all, collect
information on students’ learning progression in order to identify their strengths and
weaknesses and adapt consequently the instruction offered. Students, thus informed, are able
to regulate their own cognitive and metacognitive strategies (Allal & Mottier Lopez, 2007;
Morrissette, 2009; Scallon, 1986). This type of assessment considers students’ mistakes as an
opportunity for them to better understand their difficulties and a way for teachers to better
support their pupils. The marking scheme was conceived in a way that respected this orientation
and students’ report cards noted whether students had exceeded expectation, reached an
appropriate level of understanding, were in the process of developing their understanding or
had difficulty reaching the appropriate level of understanding.
However, this new assessment scheme was met with considerable resistance and critique
from politicians, educators and parents, who wished for a more traditional evaluation form. The
pressure was such that in 2011, the Ministry of Education of Quebec changed the framework
of assessment so that teachers have now the obligation to provide a numeral grade to describe
their students’ learning and to formally communicate it in the provincial report card. Thus,
although the curriculum is competency based and build on inclusive education, the Ministry of
Education imposes a summative assessment approach that compares students’ learning with
preconceived levels of achievement (Hadji, 2015; Issaieva and Crahay, 2010). Consequently,
teachers' evaluation practices still classify students as "good" or "bad" depending on their
results. Teachers are required to evaluate their students’ performance rather than assess their
learning progression. In this context, it is important to differentiate was is meant by assessment
and evaluation (Allal & Mottier Lopez, 2007; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Morrissette, 2009;
Scallon, 1986). Evaluation means to focus on grades to judge students’ achievement while
assessment refers to the process of documenting students’ work and using the empirical data
collected to provide feedback on their leaning progression. The function of evaluation is to
certify the level of learning reached while the function of assessment is to improve learning (De
Ketele, 2010). In inclusive education, assessment practices are more appropriate to observe the
values of equality, justice and equity. Yet, is it possible, in a system that favors a summative
approach, to develop assessment practices that aim at helping students, whatever their needs
be, move forward in their schooling?
Developing teaching strategies that foster a more inclusive assessment model appears to
be fundamental if we wish to improve learning for all children and ensure that children with
disabilities have equal chances to become active citizens in their communities. If we want to
work towards inclusion, we need to reassess our assessment practices.
This paper presents the results emerging from a collaborative research project (Desgagné,
1997) conducted with seven elementary school teachers. The aims of the project were to (1)
identify potential assessment strategies allowing teachers to assess their students without
resorting to examination and (2) to develop strategies to provide a more inclusive form of
Quebec is a Canadian province. In Canada, Education fall within provincial jurisdiction and thus provinces all
have unique education systems.
2. Review of Literature: Towards a Joint Model of Learning and Assessment
All children can achieve a learning objective if they know what the objective is (Stiggins,
2008). This paper focuses on a particular form of assessment, namely formative assessment.
Assessment is part of a learning dynamic and provides information to adjust both teaching and
learning (Laurier, 2014). The role of formative assessment is to support learning by providing
regular feedback to the student on his or her progress (Black, 2016; De Ketele, 2010; Dirksen,
2013; Dunn & Mulvenon, 2009; Harlen, 2016; Scallon, 2008; Stiggins, 2009). The goal is to
help students connect what they know with the new knowledge they are building (Scallon,
2008). Formative assessment is different from an evaluative approach because it doesn’t assess
learning at the end of a teaching sequence. Instead, it supports students’ learning throughout
the entire teaching sequence by enabling both teachers and students to identify the content that
still needs to be mastered (Dunn & Mulvenon, 2009). Thus, formative assessment is conducted
throughout the learning activities proposed in class (Black, 2016). Our research team has thus
elaborated a theoretical model to explain the relationship between the planification of learning
activities, the teaching activities and the role of formative assessment throughout this process.
Figure 1 illustrates this model inspired by the available literature. The project has specifically
focused on the teaching of history and science and thus, the teaching activities found in Figure
1 are representative of the pedagogical approaches favoured by both disciplines.
Figure 1: A Joint Model of Learning and Assessment
This model was use to analyse the data emerging from the collaborative research. It’s
design illustrates the relationship between learning and assessment and allows to deconstruct
the steps in which teachers plan their lessons. The first step of this model is to scaffold the
desired learning objectives by answering the following questions: what should be learned and
assessed and how will students develop this new knowledge. By identifying the learning
objectives related to the discipline taught, it is possible, at the same time, to identify the
assessment criteria that will be used to support students in their learning (Smith, 2014; Stiggins,
2008). Content knowledge is prescribed by the Quebec curriculum (QEP) (MEQ, 2001), which
focuses on the development of competencies. Competency here refers to the acquisition
and mobilization by students of multiple resources that include strategies, knowledge,
technics, and abilities. When it comes to assessment, the first step of the model identifies
what criteria should be used. In Quebec, the framework for evaluation of learning published by
the Ministry of Education provides a list of official criteria to be used (MELS, 2011) but
teachers can select the ones which match best their desired learning outcomes.
Once teachers have identified what is to be taught and what should be assess, they can
consider how they will accomplish this with their students. On the disciplinary side, teachers
reflect on the sequence of teaching and the activities that will structure students’ learning.
Research in history education shows the importance of focusing on active learning strategies in
order to respect the epistemology of the discipline that is being taught (Sears, 2014). Students
should “do” history or science rather than just consume pre-established narratives or simply
read about scientific results. Thus, inquiry based learning (Martineau, 2010) or conceptual
learning strategies (Jadoulle, 2018) are two examples of approaches that promote active
learning. In these approaches, students are required to engage in a research process that enables
them to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct their knowledge (Duquette et al., 2017; Seixas,
2015). When it comes to thinking about how students will be assessed, teachers have, according
to De Ketele (2010), three possible approaches: summative, descriptive, and hermeneutic.
Depending on the chosen approach, the teacher will use the resources at his or her disposal
differently to offer feedback. Resources include assessment instruments, observations and
student work collected during class as well as many other possibilities (Fontaine et al., 2013).
The summative approach includes assessment activities such as drills, tests, written activities,
and others (Craig, 2010; Ghiatau et al., 2011). Based on these activities, the teacher grades
student work by adding up the correct answers. Although this approach is often used in the
Quebec school system, it does not provide an account of students’ competency (Hadji, 2015).
The descriptive approach consists of assessing using descriptive grids or scales (Roegiers,
2004). As for the hermeneutic approach, it is carried out by collecting a set of proofs from the
students' work (written or not), classroom activities, and observations and seeing how students’
learning has evolved through time (De Ketele, 2010).
The second step of the joint model is directed towards the actual lesson planning which
consists of setting up teaching activities and feedbacks to promote learning. Teaching activities
in history and science are based on a common research methodology that involves questioning,
“trial and error”, experimentation, model design or realization of a prototype (MELS, 2001).
These procedures take place while student complete the tasks imposed by the teacher. Stiggins
(2009) suggests a set of potential assessing possibilities while students work, such as: sharing
learning goals with the class, providing formal and informal feedback on student work, offering
suggestions for improvement and supplying students with self-assessment tools or strategies.
Feedback should help the regulation of the student's cognitive and metacognitive strategies
(Allal & Lopez, 2007). Consequently, assessments must rely on the objects and learning
approaches targeted within an activity (Mottier Lopez, 2015). In order to ensure consistency,
the teacher’s feedback should be based on the assessment criteria previously decided. To be
effective, feedback must be qualitative in nature or in other words, it must describe the student's
shortcomings and strengths and suggest remedial strategies when necessary (Hattie &
Timperley, 2007). Thus, a student grade should not be considered as a form of feedback, which
can be done in a more informal manner through oral comments or formally through written
comments based on the assessment instrument (evaluation grid, comments in a student
production, etc.) (Diedhiou, 2013; Jorro & Mercier-Brunel, 2011; Talbot & Arrieu-Mutel,
Feedback can be divided into four categories: the task performance, the process of
understanding how to do a task, the regulatory or metacognitive process, and the self or personal
feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Task performance involves giving the student feedback
to ensure that they have a correct understanding of the task they must complete. In science
education, a teacher could ask students to explain their understanding of an experiment or
scientific model in relation to the studied concepts. Process of understanding feedback is
offered during the task and involves feedback that relates to the flow of the activity and the
inquiry approaches used. For example, a teacher could take time to reflect with his or her
students on the development or implementation of a research protocol or on the possible choice
students have when designing a model or a prototype. Feedback on regulatory or metacognitive
process is intended to make the student aware of the strategies he has used during the learning
process. A teacher could ask students to review their approach, compare it with another student,
and adjust it, if necessary. Finally, feedback on self or personal level consists of congratulating
the student on his personal qualities or identifying their particular challenges in hope that they
can overcome them. This type of feedback does not focus on the learning objects per se, but
rather on the person him or herself.
In our joint model, assessment is integrated into daily teaching and learning activities.
Thus, assessment is not limited to formal testing. On the contrary, it is associated with in-class
observations, questioning and student feedback (Diedhiou, 2013; Mottier-Lopez, 2015). It
focuses on students’ understanding and requires teachers to structure activities to be more
inclusive so that all students have an equal chance of success. To achieve this, teachers should
not only adapt the assessment offered at the end of the learning process, but also take every
opportunity offered to them to help students progress through the use of appropriate feedback.
Assessment plays the role of a sentinel by monitoring students' progress on a daily basis and
thus, it provides early warning signs to the teacher of any difficulties that might arise. This
allows, in turn, teachers to provide activities that support students’ individual needs (Garel,
3.1 Collaborative Research
Our research group has completed a collaborative research project (Desgagné, 2001) with
seven elementary school teachers from 2016 to 2018. Collaborative research is a bottom-to-top
approach where all members of the team provide their different expertise and subsequently, all
benefit from the results. New knowledge on current and developing practices is co-constructed
by the researchers and the practitioners together (Desgagné, 1997). Teachers’ role in this
research was to describe and analyze a wide variety of classroom dynamics to help researchers
and other teachers in the interpretation of the emerging data (Ward & Tikunoff, 1982).
Collaborative research requires that researchers take into account the teachers' point of view by
promoting the importance of a network of expertise (Bednarz, 2013). This approach also
involves three essential steps: co-contextualization of the research problem, cooperation during
the project and co-production of both teaching material and academic publication (Desgagné,
1997). Researchers must therefore, at the various steps of research, respect the logic of both
research and teacher practices (Barry & Saboya, 2015). This paper will mainly focus on the
third step of the research and present examples of co-productions.
For this project, the research team was composed of three academic researchers with
different expertise namely: in assessment and evaluation, in history education and in science
education. Two pedagogical advisors with backgrounds in history or science education and
seven elementary school teachers completed the group. More specifically, the group of teachers
was composed of two grade 6 teachers, three grade 5 teachers and two grade 2 teachers. The
selected teachers were on their second participation having previously realized another
collaborative research project with the team (FUQAC-2015-2017). The collaboration among
the team members was therefore already well established at the beginning of the project.
3.3 Data Collection
The research project began in December 2017 and lasted two years. To achieve a network
of expertise, the research methodology was built using the three essential steps of a collective
research approach and data was collected during focus groups and semi-structured interviews.
Table 1 presents how the methodology helped organize the research design.
Focus group (6 hours)
Semi-structured interview (60 – 75 min.)
Focus group (6 hours)
Semi-structured interview (60-75 min.)
Focus group (6 hours)
Focus group (6 hours)
Focus group (6 hours)
Semi-structured interviews were used to better understand participants’ teaching
practices. In the case of this research, one of the goals was to report on the participant's growing
expertise. Thus, the semi-directed interviews were understood within a constructivist
perspective that aims at helping participants become self-aware of their own pratice, to better
understand it so that they may improve or adapt it when confronted with similar tasks or
situations (Forget, 2013). The interview framework and the data obtained were both presented
in a previously published article (Author, 2020). The analysis of the interviews helped structure
the focus groups which were held in October 2018, in December 2018 and in May 2019. As
mentioned previously, this article mainly focuses on the third step of the collaborative research
approach: the coproduction of teaching material that provided examples of inclusive
The results of the first year of the project raised three challenges: 1) How to teach and to
assess the intellectual skills identified in the history curriculum; 2) Which criteria should be
used to assess students’ description of scientific problems; 3) How to assess students without a
numerical mark while making sure that appropriate feedback could be given to the students and
their parents. Thus, during the first meeting in October, teachers and researchers reflected on
the epistemology of the discipline of history and the objectives behind learning history in
school. Learning history should not be limited to the memorization of dates and events. It should
help students develop their ability to think historically through a set of intellectual skills. Team
members reflected on their personal understanding of the discipline and how it influenced their
own teaching and assessment practices. The meeting then focused on the question of providing
adequate feedback to students (task performance, process of understanding, regulatory or
metacognitive, self or personal). Team members had the opportunity to consider different forms
of feedback they might use in their upcoming teaching activities. The topics of the first focus
group were identified within our joint model as belonging to the learning activity in history
(what and how) category and the four levels of feedback category.
In December 2018, the team met to review feedback practices in history. Teachers
discussed how different learning activities fostered different types of feedback. Also, the
researchers felt the need to revisit the types of feedback one could offer but this time, turning
their attention towards the teaching of science. The teachers were invited to comment a grid
presenting different types of feedback they themselves had mentioned during the second
interview. They also tried to identify relevant questions that could be asked to students to help
guide their progress in science. The team reflected on criteria for assessing the description of a
scientific problem. The topics of the second focus group were identified within our joint model
as belonging to the categories of learning activity in science (what and how), assessment (what
and how) and feedback.
During the last meeting in May 2019, teachers shared the assessment tools and practices
they had developed in science and history throughout the project. They also shared how their
participation had changed their teaching and assessment practices in both science and history.
Finally, they discussed how the change in their teaching and assessment practices affected their
students. A video clip was created to present a synthetized version of the information shared
during the last meeting
The focus group were analysed using a qualitative approach. Thus, the first step was to
transcribe the recording of the focus group and integrated the transcription into the NVivo
software. We followed Van der Maren’s (2009) and Miles and Huberman’s (2002)
methodology concerning the analysis of written content which is composed of four steps : 1)
selection of relevant data for each interview, 2) identification of the units of meaning, 3)
classification of the units of meaning in each category of mobilized knowledge, and 4) grouping
of the units of meaning according to common themes. An inductive logic that consists of using
the theoretical framework as a guide to the analysis process (Savoie-Zajc, 2004) has been
favoured by the team. The methodological approach of this project made it possible to answer
to several types of triangulation (Denzin, 1970): Data (interviews, documents and, meeting),
collectivity and interactive (teacher validation), investigator (multiple observers) and theory
(evaluation and didactics).
4. Results and Discussion
During the focus groups, the team members discussed different assessment strategies that
would allow them to be more inclusive while still adhering to the discipline’s epistemology.
Among these strategies the one that felt most appropriate was student interviews. Two examples
of the use of the interview in history class are presented here. The first one is related with the
creation of an in-class museum and the second with the construction of a lapbook that promotes
a comparison of two societies.
4.1. In-class Museum Depicting Quebec in the 1980s
Quebec’s grade 6 history curriculum states that students must know the characteristics of
the society in the 1980’s. One of the project participant decided to plan and realize a teaching
activity consisting in the creation of an in-class museum composed of artifacts dating back to
the 1980s. Students were tasked with finding ten objects originating from those years. The
objects could come from their home but also could be found online. For each of them, students
had to write an information sheet and pinpoint the creation of the artefact on a timeline. They
also had to link the apparition of the artefact with the historical context and explain what
consequences the artefact had on the society. Finally, student had to state if the artefact was
still present in today’s society and whether or not it had undergone transformation. For example,
students could say that the Walkman is still found today but their technology has changed.
Link to the video clip: https://youtu.be/Ea9O4NOMDz4
Figure 2 illustrates how items from the grade 6 history program can be included in our joint
Figure 2: Interview to Assess History
Thus, to assess the student’s competency to “understand the organization of a society in
its territory”, the teacher chose to target two intellectual skills namely to situate in time and
space and to establish causal connections between events. During the teaching activity, she
questioned students and observed their work in order to assess both intellectual skills. She first
used design teaching to help students understand the activity:
“I first used design teaching to introduce the objects. For
example, I asked why it [the creation of the object] happened, how
things used to be before that, what's happening now[...] I would explain
the cause behind the invention, why this change happened at that
moment in time, etc. For those students who didn’t have an object from
home, I told them they could also use pictures of events or objects found
on the Web.” (E2: free translation)
The teacher was able to assess her student throughout the teaching activity. To do so, she
created a grid describing how students should progress in their understanding of the studied
society and in their ability to establish causal connexions between events. She used the
assessment strategy of student interviews to establish whether or not students were developing
their intellectual skills.
In the focus group, the teacher explained how she dealt with a student who brought an
object that didn’t fulfill the criteria to complete the task: "When the student couldn't do it [the
task], I couldn't penalize him. So, I would ask: "Your game, why couldn't we play it before? It
wasn't invented... What did people do instead? "[...] I help them question themselves. " In other
words, the teacher used a problem-solving strategy that allowed her to assist her students and
help them develop their understanding of the historical context as well as their ability to
establish causality. In this case, the feedback focused on self-regulation and self-assessment.
This example reveals strong ties between the nature of the learning activity and the assessment
strategy favored by the teacher. Moreover, these strong ties make it possible to highlight the
diversity of students’ needs. The teacher was able to tailor her expectations to the student's
needs and promote self-assessment. This activity is inclusive since all the students were able to
develop the targeted intellectual skills at their own rhythm supported by the teacher’s
4.2. A Lapbook to Compare Two Societies
This second example features the creation of a lapbook. As depicted in Figure 3, a
lapbook is a folded piece of cardboard which has two ledges on the top. Each ledge presents
the characteristics of a society. When the lapbook is opened, the interior provides space to
compare different aspects of both societies. In her teaching activity, the second teacher asked
her students to compare Quebec in the 1980’s and South Africa around 1980. The goal of the
project was to help students “be open to the diversity of societies and their territories”. To
achieve this, students began by reading about South Africa. Then, they were asked to fill in
summary sheets on what they had learned. Once the research phase was completed, students
created a lapbook that compared both societies. Figure 4 shows how these new items from the
grade 6 history program can be included in our joint model.
Figure 3 : Example of a LapBook comparing South Africa and Quebec in the 1980’s
Figure 4: Questioning to Assess History
During the creation of the lapbook, the teacher questioned her students as a mean to give
feedback on the task and on the process as well as a way to promote self-regulation. Here are
some examples of questions asked during the creation of the lapbooks:
- Have you looked at the territory of each society?
- What kind of climates are there in South Africa and in Quebec?
- What is natural wealth and resources?
- Where can you get the information you need?
To assess her students, the teacher opted for the interview during which, students used their
lapbook to compare both societies. The teacher adapted her questions according to the students'
needs, using therefore a descriptive approach to assessment (De Ketele, 2010). The lapbook
activity also offered students the opportunity to express themselves according to their needs
and personalities. Each student could develop his or her ability to make comparisons and the
versatile structure of the lapbook gave them freedom to express this ability in different ways.
We see here the emergence of an inclusive approach.
4.3. Some examples of inclusive assessment strategies in science and technology
When teaching science, one teacher chose an experimental approach to learning. This
choice influenced her assessment strategy making her favor observations and questioning
The first activity was aimed at discovering how electrical circuits function. Students had
to create an electrical circuit but the challenge was to come up with solutions to save electricity.
The competency developed by the activity was to help students propose explanations or
solutions to scientific or technological problems. Figure 5 presents our joint models with the
criteria found in the science and technology curriculum.
Figure 5: Assessing Science through Query
During the activity, the teacher walked around the classroom and observed her students
as they completed the challenge. She took this moment as an opportunity to question them,
asking them to explain their solutions and she was giving them feedback in return. The teacher
realized that her questioning helped students self-regulate which resulted in them gaining
greater autonomy in their problem-solving strategies. While analyzing the focus group data,
researchers found that teachers were no longer looking for the right answer when questioning
their students, but rather they were trying to assess the approaches students used to complete
the task at hand.
The second activity developed to teach science was to compare the quality of plasters
bought at the pharmacy. Through this activity, the teacher could assess students’ competency
to propose explanations or solutions to scientific problems. Students had to implement an
experimental approach to verify the quality of different brands of plasters. The goal was to
identify the best brand. Each team was assigned a specific property to check. For example, one
team had to check for durability, while the other the waterproofness. To do this, students
elaborated their own experimental methodology, which they needed to test and adjust if
necessary. For example, for adherence, students would put the plasters on their knees and rub
them with their jeans. The teacher observed her students in action and used questions to assess
then. She had created a descriptive grid build around two criteria, namely: The use of an
appropriate scientific approach and the ability to develop explanations or solutions. Her
feedback mainly focused on the realization of the task and how students self-regulated and self-
The two science examples show that the assessment approach chosen by the teachers
allows them to tailor their interventions to the needs and knowledge of their students. The aim
is no longer to find the right answer but rather to help student learn a scientific method. When
teachers have a better grasp of the epistemology of the discipline and start focusing on criteria
to guide coaching, they start to provide feedback that facilitates student success and therefore
helps to make assessment more inclusive.
4.4. Believe in the educability of the student by opting for assessment practices that regulates
An inclusive approach requires that teachers believe in the educability of their students
(Prud’homme et al., 2011). It means that teachers must be convinced that any student can
succeed in the correct learning environment. When assessment assumes a regulatory function,
it makes it possible to improve support for the pupils and allows the teacher to reflect on the
learning situations he or she has put in place. However, to properly guide students’ learning
and meet their individual needs, it is imperative to carefully choose the learning target. This
cannot be achieved without an in-depth understanding of the epistemology of the discipline
The goal of school history is not to memorize a set of dates and events but to develop
students’ historical thinking through the learning of intellectual operations (Seixas and Morton,
2013). When too much emphasis is placed on memorization, students who have a harder time
remembering dates are placed at a disadvantaged which can results in failure. Historical
thinking, on the other hand, evolves through the development of intellectual operations which
can be observed in multiple ways by the teachers. For example, establishing facts can be done
using images for students with reading difficulties and historical texts for students with greater
reading skills. However, if a teacher lacks the proper epistemological understanding of the
discipline, they might refrain from an assessment based on students’ historical thinking skills
and limit themselves with tests and quizzes that rewards a single type of learner. Thus an
inclusive approach can only be attained through epistemological understanding that influences
in turn both the learning strategies and the assessment approached favored by a teacher.
A similar observation can be made in science education. As in history, the goal of science
education is not to learn encyclopedic knowledge recognized as scientific knowledge, but to
develop reasoning through investigation. Students build their own knowledge through
observation, trial and error and reflection. This knowledge is negotiated and argued in the same
way scientific knowledge is negotiated and argued. It follows the same process of elaboration
and validation. Science learning thus provides both procedural as well as factual knowledge.
Feedback and assessment should be concerned with both types of knowledge which can be
expressed in different forms such as explanations, solutions, models, drawings, oral
presentations, etc. The challenge is, therefore, to provide feedback during the learning process,
but also to reflect on the learning targeted by this feedback in a broader perspective that includes
as well the concepts, approaches, tools, processes, language modes, and reasoning involved.
When offering activities that allow the student to be actively involved in the demonstration of
his or her competencies, an inclusive approach becomes possible. The teacher will readjust the
material as he or she observes students, adding or removing information according to their
This paper wished to offer a reflection on the importance of teachers’ understanding of
disciplinary epistemology as the key to gaining greater freedom in assessment practices and
thus promoting a more inclusive form of assessment. Data emerging from the collaborative
research made it possible to observe concrete learning activities that answered the criteria to
inclusive education. And, with the teachers acting as co-researchers, examples of assessment
practices such as interviews and questions embedded in the learning activities were created. At
the end of this project, the research team noticed that when teachers change their understanding
of the discipline, automatically the activities take on a different form and become grounded in
inclusive education. In assessing students, teachers modify their strategies and move towards a
descriptive approach to assessment. In this way, the activities and the assessment become much
more coherent and inclusive. If the goal is to move towards more inclusive assessment
practices, with a regulatory function and a descriptive approach, it is important to reflect on
assessment from a discipline perspective, to work closely with teachers to ensure that their
understanding of the subject (what and why) is grounded in their disciplinary knowledge and
to foster multidisciplinary research teams that include education specialists and learning
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