Systematic Observation of Formal Assessment of Students by Teachers (SOFAST)


  • Hans van der Mars Arizona State University
  • Gay Timken
  • Jeff McNamee



Assessment, student learning, teaching function


Assessment is a central function of the teaching–learning cycle and a key performance standard for beginning and experienced teachers. Especially in today’s school climate of high-stakes teacher evaluation, physical education will continue to be at risk unless programs can begin to provide evidence of student learning. The Systematic Observation of Formal Assessment of Students by Teachers (SOFAST) instrument was developed for the purpose of collecting process data on various dimensions of teachers’ formal and informal assessment practices. SOFAST is a three-level observation system that allows users to collect data on teachers’ primary teaching functions (including formal and informal assessment), the focus of their assessment, and common contextual dimensions of lessons. Seven secondary-level licensed physical education teachers were observed over three regular lessons. Percentages were calculated for each SOFAST category. Individual and group means and standard deviations were calculated. Secondary physical education teachers employ mostly informal assessment strategies and limit their formal assessment to student efforts on managerial aspects of performance.

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Author Biography

Hans van der Mars, Arizona State University

Professor and Physical Education Program Director