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My Philosophy on Assessment: Angela Sharpe

Assessment plays a fundamental role in the educational and language learning process.
The purpose of assessment is to support and enhance student learning, provide information on
areas of both learner and instructional strengths and weaknesses, and implicate targets for
improvement. It is crucial that language teachers understand that the outcomes of assessment
can affect learners in profound ways. Therefore, all assessments should be fair and valid, they
should have clearly stated instructions and objectives, and they should be able to be interpreted
through reliable rubrics and scores which reflect relevant constructs and learning outcomes.
My language teaching experience, and thus my assessment experience, has been in a
variety of contexts. However, no matter the context, I think it is imperative to connect the design
and purpose of an assessment to the diverse language learning needs, outcomes, and expectations
of students. Additionally, instructors should have working knowledge of the essential
components in assessment, including, being able to justify their decisions when developing or
adapting assessment instruments, based upon reliability, validity, and practicality. In other
words, language teachers need to be able to evaluate whether an assessment is measuring the
constructs and learning outcomes being tested, as well as, to be able to evaluate rubrics and
instructions for clarity, and scoring procedures, for consistency across forms, raters, and
instances of scoring. Likewise, language teachers should be able to design and/or make
assessment decisions based upon the authenticity of the tasks and the content in terms of the real
world target language setting.
The specific types of assessments which I have had experience designing and
administering include, formative and summative criterion-referenced assessments, normreferenced proficiency assessments, and alternative assessments including, interviews, dialogues,

role-plays, collaborative projects, presentations, reading to write portfolios, and self and peer
assessments. I have also used learner-centered reflective journaling in order to give learners
personalized feedback on their writing. These types of alternative assessments enable both
myself and my students to focus on the process as well as the product of language learning. I
also like project-based assessments which are multi-step, where students receive feedback and
edit their work along the way so that the end product contains input from multiple sources, is
well thought-out and executed, and reflects the types of language-based tasks that learners
encounter in their professional and social milieus. In this respect, collaborative projects, such as
presentations, dialogues, and role-plays, as alternative assessments, present opportunities for
learners to practice important pragmatic skills, as well as, learning from one another. I feel that
pushing learners to be autonomous while collaborating with peers increases their understanding
of the expectations of real-world target language situations. Therefore, I feel it is important to
assess collaborative work based upon group performance and individual performance.
In summary, I feel that it is paramount that language teachers have a firm understanding
of the basic elements of assessment. These elements include, understanding the design and
purpose of an assessment in connection to the outcomes and goals of the course, and the diverse
needs of the students. Finally, I believe that it is fundamental that language teachers be able to
develop materials and assessments which have explicit instructions and scoring procedures, are
fair and level appropriate, and are administered in an accommodative test taking environment.