Huritao: Critical reflection on pedagogy through assessments

Full reference
Werry, S., Cown, P. and Skeoch, R. (2021). Huritao: Critical reflection on pedagogy through assessment.  NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 23(1), pp. 1 - 13

Page 1

Original Research Paper

NZ Int Reseach ECE journal pic

Huritao: Critical reflection on pedagogy through assessments

Sue Werry, Paula Cown and Roberta Skeoch
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, NZ



Te Whāriki, Aotearoa New Zealand’s early childhood education curriculum states assessments need to make learning ‘visible’. This paper discusses how a particular form of narrative assessment, called trissessment, challenged kaiako (teachers) to reflect critically on their pedagogy.  Trissessment uses the indigenous whaikōrero tikanga of tau utuutu (a speech making protocol) as a way of amplifying tamariki (children) and whānau (family) voices in the assessment process. Our project was a collaboration between researchers and kaiako-researchers of four-year-olds in an early childhood centre. Thematic analysis of trissessments and interview data obtained from kaiako and whānau revealed kaiako were paying much closer attention to tamariki through observation and listening; becoming more curious about what intrigued tamariki, thus deepening kaiako insights into children’s learning. As kaiako reflected critically on the learning that comes from the tau utuutu process, there was a profound shift in their pedagogy.

Key words: Assessment, pedagogy, reflection, practitioner research.



In recent Education Review Office (ERO) reports there has been an emphasis on the need for early childhood education (ECE) kaiako (teachers) to develop a shared understanding of and expectations for each child’s learning so that pedagogy supports all tamariki (children) and makes learning “visible in assessment’” (Education Review Office, 2017, p. 3). The importance of involving tamariki, parents and whānau (family) in tamariki (children’s) education, including assessment for learning, is strongly emphasised throughout the early childhood national curriculum, Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education [MOE], 2017; 2004-2009; Carr & Lee, 2012). Although involving whānau and tamariki in assessment is not easy, the ‘stronger bicultural framing in Te Whāriki 2017’ (Skerrett, 2018, p. 3) makes it an imperative for early childhood education (ECE) kaiako to find ways to hear authentically their voices in the assessment processes of a centre.  To ensure this bicultural framing, traditional concepts can be used within today’s context to inform research (Macfarlane, et al., 2019).  Thus, this article argues that the use of Skeoch’s ‘trissessment’ approach (Cown et al, 2016), which is modelled on the tau utuutu process (the order of speeches within a welcome ceremony of the indigenous tribes of New Zealand), allows for multi-participant assessment for learning where tamariki voices are heard more, and whānau involvement in their tamariki learning is increased and deepened leading to significant changes in kaiako pedagogy.


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