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Tuning Into Your Learners:

Assessment and Evaluation in the


Lesson
Craig Thaine

Overview

Explore what assessment of learners means for you


Outline the benefits of Learning Oriented Assessment for
teachers and learners
Investigate the kind of explicit and implicit evaluation of
learners that teachers carry out on a daily basis
Outline challenges and strategies associated with tuning
into learners and evaluating their language
Look at suggestions for recording information about learner
language.

Task: What associations or connotations


does this phrase have for you?

assessment
of learners

Task:
How typical are conversations like this in your staff room?
What happens to all this information about learners?
A: Hows Bianca getting on in the afternoon class?
B: Good her confidence has really improved shes taking part much
more. Hows she going in your class?
A: OK. I think she really struggles with grammar. Like, last week, we spent
about 3 days on the past simple, but she just doesnt get it. You know, she
always says I have watched TV last night.

Learning Oriented Assessment (LOA)


links assessment of learners to their developing
needs
acknowledges teachers on-going judgement and
evaluation of learners
is often viewed as a task-based cycle.

task

modify
objectives

teacher
observation

feedback to
learners

recording your
interpretation

teacher
decisionmaking

Learning Oriented Assessment


involves the collection and
interpretation of evidence about
performance so that judgements can be
made about further language
development.
(Purpura 2004: 236)

Assessment
Framework
Syllabus/Course

Learning
Objectives

LOA Cycle

Task: Assessment Framework


What kind of assessment framework do you have
in your institution? (e.g. created by institution,
external validating body)
What kind of assessment activities do your
learners carry out? (e.g. regular tests, external
exams)

formal tests
teacher
interpretation

informal tests

evaluation
of
learners

Learning Oriented Assessment ...


emphasises teacher interpretation of
learner language and behaviour.
This means that ...
assessment is oriented towards
learning.
As a result ...
assessment is seen as part of the
learning process.

Making Learning Oriented Assessment


explicit: teacher benefits
validates the kind of thinking and talking we do on a daily
basis
contextualises our judgements and interpretations within an
assessment framework
highlights the value of keeping a record of learner progress
allows us to to fine-tune learning objectives for learners
perhaps encourages us to tune into learners more during
the lesson.

Making Learning Oriented Assessment


explicit: learner benefits
means they are constantly getting feedback on their
language competence
is perhaps less threatening than the typical end-of-month
test
is more likely to result in learners working at a level of
challenge that is appropriate for them
helps them to set their own learning objectives, which, in
turn, should result in more learner independence.

Task: Evaluation during a lesson (1)


What are different ways that teachers evaluate and
assess learners during the course of a lesson?
e.g. checking they have understood the meaning of a
grammar concept

Evaluation during a lesson

concept checking
drilling
controlled/semi-controlled oral/written language practice
freer oral/written language practice
spoken fluency activities
free writing tasks
reading and listening comprehension tasks

Task: Evaluation during a lesson (2)


What can we evaluate and assess when learners are
carrying out the following activities?
drilling
controlled written practice
freer oral practice

Evaluation during a lesson


drilling: ability to manipulate the form of the language, phonological
accuracy
controlled written practice: ability to manipulate form, understanding
of the concept, ways that the target language fits with other language
items, accuracy of writing skills (spelling, punctuation etc.)
freer oral practice: ability to manipulate form, understanding of
concept, phonological comprehensibility, ability to integrate new form
with discourse (contextualisation), appropriate language use,
interactional skills

Task: Freer oral practice


What are the challenges associated with
evaluating learner language during freer oral
practice activities?
e.g. noisy classroom

Some strategies for tuning in


Think about how you can best listen to learners e.g. standing or
kneeling? in front or behind? with or without eye contact?

Some strategies for tuning in


Think about how you can best listen to learners e.g. standing or
kneeling? in front or behind? with or without eye contact?
Decide on your approach immediate feedback, write down language
and feedback later or both?

Some strategies for tuning in


Think about how you can best listen to learners e.g. standing or
kneeling? in front or behind? with or without eye contact?
Decide on your approach immediate feedback, write down language
and feedback later or both?
Decide which language item youre going to listen for and listen only for
that dont try and listen to everything.

Some strategies for tuning in


Think about how you can best listen to learners e.g. standing or
kneeling? in front or behind? with or without eye contact?
Decide on your approach immediate feedback, write down language
and feedback later or both?
Decide which language item youre going to listen for and listen only for
that dont try and listen to everything.
For each activity, target certain learners. If each lesson contains three or
more practice activities, then by the end of one lesson, you will have
tuned into everyone in the class at some stage.

Some strategies for tuning in

Think about how you can best listen to learners e.g. standing or kneeling? in
front or behind? with or without eye contact?
Decide on your approach immediate feedback, write down language and
feedback later or both?
Decide which language item youre going to listen for and listen only for that
dont try and listen to everything.
For each activity, target certain learners. If each lesson contains three or more
practice activities, then by the end of one lesson, you will have tuned into
everyone in the class at some stage.
Listen in to form an impression, then get two representative pairs to perform
their activity for the rest of the class and give constructive feedback on this.

Some strategies for tuning in

Think about how you can best listen to learners e.g. standing or kneeling? in
front or behind? with or without eye contact?
Decide on your approach immediate feedback, write down language and
feedback later or both?
Decide which language item youre going to listen for and listen only for that
dont try and listen to everything.
For each activity, target certain learners. If each lesson contains three or more
practice activities, then by the end of one lesson, you will have tuned into
everyone in the class at some stage.
Listen in to form an impression, then get two representative pairs to perform
their activity for the rest of the class and give constructive feedback on this.
Over a week record learners (with their permission) doing different activities.
Listen outside class time (c.f. marking written work).

Some strategies for tuning in

Think about how you can best listen to learners e.g. standing or kneeling? in front or
behind? with or without eye contact?
Decide on your approach immediate feedback, write down language and feedback later
or both?
Decide which language item youre going to listen for and listen only for that dont try and
listen to everything.
For each activity, target certain learners. If each lesson contains three or more practice
activities, then by the end of one lesson, you will have tuned into everyone in the class at
some stage.
Listen in to form an impression, then get two representative pairs to perform their activity
for the rest of the class and give constructive feedback on this.
Over a week record learners (with their permission) doing different activities. Listen outside
class time (c.f. marking written work).
Learners record themselves (many have smartphones) and bring excerpts to a tutorial
encourages learner independence.

Recording evidence
What can we do with the evidence we gather on
learner language?

Cambridge English Empower

Course and
assessment
package

Learning
Management
System

Learning management system


available online
tracks learners (individual and group) test results
and progress
teacher can make notes on learners
produces progress reports
includes web tools (blogs, wikis and forums)

Summary: We have looked at

how Learning Oriented Assessment fits within a broader


assessment framework
how Learning Oriented Assessment makes explicit the kind
of evaluation teachers carry out on a daily basis
ways for tuning into learner language so you can collect
more useful information
ways of recording information you get about learner
language and behaviour

Tuning Into Your Learners:


Assessment and Evaluation in the
Lesson
Craig Thaine