Exploring teachers’ formative assessment practices in improving biology learning and performance: a case of selected community secondary school in Moshi Municpality

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Winston Edward Massam

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Nipael Mrutu


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


The purpose of the study was to explore current formative assessment practices by Biology teachers and how these practices influence learning and performance in Biology. The study involved a case study in a single selected community ordinary level secondary school in Moshi municipality. It purposively involved two biology teachers from non-examination classes and twenty students. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews which involved the teachers, classroom observations, focus group discussion with the students and document review and analysis. The data was transcribed verbatim, then coded and themes generated through thematic analysis. The study findings revealed that: biology teachers use oral questioning and test intensively, teachers’ questioning dominates the lessons, there is lack of peer assessment, and generalized feedback prevails over other feedback strategies. Additionally, it was observed that teachers hardly shared clearly stated learning objectives with the students. Feedback practices involved: punishment of students scoring F, proving correction on problems, grading, error flagging, scoring and verbal comments. Besides, teachers used formative assessment information to identify students’ difficulties and errors, check the understanding of the students on developed concepts, forming groups with mixed students’ abilities and re-teaching concepts. Lastly, the challenges that biology teachers faced included, the fact that English language was a barrier of instruction, poor attitude towards biology of art class students and teachers’ inadequate knowledge on formative assessment. It is suggested that teachers need formative assessment training to improve their practice, design formative assessment tasks that stimulate and collect evidence of learning in order to improve students’ learning and performance.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library