Continuous assessment of pupils' 'O' Level design project work in technical subjects in secondary schools in Zimbabwe
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The purpose of the study was to find out if teachers were using continuous assessment in evaluating 'O' level design project work in technical subjects in secondary schools in Zimbabwe. Data was collected from 13 teachers and 142 pupils from 5 selected secondary schools in Mashonaland West province. These were drawn from the following four technical / practical subjects: Building Studies, Metal Work, Wood Work and Technical Graphics. Two separate structured questionnaires, one for the teachers and the other for pupils, were used to collect data used to derive the findings of this study. An observation checklist was also used to collect data on selected items. The findings from this study indicate that teachers have not been using continuous assessment technique as expected by Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (ZIMSEC). The study establishes that improving the use of continuous assessment depends on seven deceptively simple key factors: (l)the recognition ofthe profound influence a marking scheme has on the motivation and self-esteem of teachers, both of which are crucial influences on implementing continuous assessment; (2) .the need for teachers to be able to interpret the marking scheme, understand its demands and how to use it; (3) the provision of workshops and in-service programmes to the teachers as routine staff development activity; (4) the active involvement ofpupils in their own learning of the design activity; (5) the provision ofexamination / course work design themes to schools in time: at least six months in advance; (6) the provision of learning materials for making models; and (7) reducing class sizes to manageable ratios for practical subjects.