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Conceptualization and Development of a Performance Task for Assessing and Building Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Ability to Facilitate Argumentation-Focused Discussions in Mathematics: The Eight Divided by One Fourth Task

Howell, Heather; Mikeska, Jamie N.; Tierney, Jessica; Baehr, Benjamin; Lehman, Penny
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Elementary Education, Simulated Environment (Teaching Method), Virtual Reality, Avatar, Discussion, Argumentation Schemes, Argumentation Skills, Mathematical Argumentation, Mathematical Concepts, Student Experience, Student Performance, Student Assessment, Student Teacher Relationship, Preservice Teacher Education, Teacher Preparation, Teacher Support, Curriculum Materials, Competency Based Teacher Education, Curriculum Development, Generating Explanations, Task Performance, Fractions


In this research memorandum, one of a series of eight such reports, we describe the development process by which we produced a series of performance tasks designed for preservice elementary teachers for formative assessment use in the context of teacher education programs. Each performance task provides an opportunity for preservice elementary teachers to practice facilitating an argumentation-focused discussion targeting a student learning goal in elementary mathematics or science. One unique aspect of this work is that the discussions take place within an online simulated classroom environment that consists of five upper elementary student avatars. This report documents the development process at three levels. First, we define the overarching teaching competency that each task targets—the ability to facilitate argumentation-focused discussions—by describing the general approach and processes used to develop the full set of eight tasks and the key components embedded within each task. Next, we describe the academic content addressed in the subset of four science tasks and how the content conceptualization supports the use of the tasks individually or as a set. We then discuss the specific task that is the focus of this research memorandum, outlining how it was designed to capture evidence of the targeted teaching competency.

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