In England the recommendation and award of qualified teacher status (QTS) is currently linked to the assessment of trainee teachers’ competencies against performance criteria descriptors. Q-methodology was used to look for subjective differences in attitudes to the assessment of trainee teachers in school. This is a quantitative approach to qualitative research combining the best of both. It statistically compares participants’ perceptions of a wide range of ideas whilst demonstrating clearly the qualitative differences between any groups showing subjectivities in their responses.
A small group involved in initial teacher education at an 11-16 school took part. The school was in partnership with a higher education QTS provider. Each respondent independently completed an anonymous on-line sorting exercise using a concourse of 41 statements about the assessment of trainees. This was constructed from appropriate literature, national policy and the partnership’s documentation and guidelines. The group included a visiting tutor, two school mentors and five trainees. Their responses were analysed using standard Q-methodology software. Participants demonstrated a clear consensus about prioritising statements concerning compliance with national requirements and local guidance. However, factor analysis identified one group, one pair and two individuals with subjective differences in their levels of agreement with statements about the assessment of trainees’ teaching competencies.
A group of four, that included one mentor and his mentee, prioritised statements linked to fairness, validity and quality assurance processes within and external to the school. The other mentor and her mentee perceived assessment almost solely in terms defined by the Teachers’ Standards in England. This suggested that the different perspectives on assessment were associated with influences other than the respondents’ differing roles within ITE.