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Assessment Philosophy

Assessments are an integral part in any language classroom, as they can be used

to gain information on student learning and progress, help shape a curriculum, and inform

instruction (Bachman & Palmer 2010). However, assessments, though widespread and

frequently utilized, are only effective if they are created and used with certain criteria in

mind (eg, practicality, authenticity, interactiveness, and integrativeness of skills). These

criteria are important in my teaching and assessment practices, as I aim to educate

students in a sociocultural manner that views learning as an interactive, reflective, and

developmental process.

In order for an assessment to be effective, its design must match its intended

purpose or use. If the design (eg. achievement, proficiency, diagnostic, or aptitude)

matches its purpose or use, this makes decisions based on the assessment scores more

valid because the interpretation of students scores are a result of an assessment created to

measure specific criteria. As a teacher, I am not only concerned that the assessments that

Im using are valid, but also that they meet other important criteria for usefulness and

integrate various language skills. I evaluate all of my assessments by looking through

them thoroughly and judging them against other criteria: practicality, authenticity,

interactiveness, and integrativeness. If my assessments meet these criteria, then I know

that not only are they more effective, but that they align with my teaching practices as


I aim to educate students in an interactive way that aligns with sociocultural

perspectives on learning, which views learning as a reflective, interactive, socially

constructed, and developmental process (Stoynoff 2012). Sociocultural learning is helpful

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to inform my assessment practices, as sociocultural learning is modeled after authentic

usage tasks, which are often interactive and require individuals to collaborate. By

integrating alternative assessments (and varied tasks) such as projects, role-plays,

discussions, presentations, and others that mirror real-life tasks (such as constructing e-

mails), I am able to formatively assess students in situations that they are likely to

encounter in the target language use domain.

Using a variety of formative assessments is also more practical in the classroom

because it requires fewer resources. For example, students can role-play different

scenarios, and in this way I can be assessing them for topical knowledge, sociolinguistic

and functional pragmatic competence, and strategic competence, all while they are

interacting, and navigating through the conversation as a process, with few to no

resources required of me (besides role-play slips). If fewer resources are required of me,

then the formative assessments are more practical to administer, but this is still balanced

with the implementation of an authentic task.

These target structures and competencies are all important pieces of

communicative language ability, as proposed by Bachman and Palmer (2010). Alternative

assessments, such a role-plays, are also effective because they do not necessarily require

much class time; in other words, valuable time of instruction is not impeded by

administering assessments. It is my hope to utilize assessments that are valid, interactive,

practical, reflective of authentic tasks, and incorporate sociocultural perspectives on

learning. These assessments will help me to diagnose problems, strengths, and inform my

teaching practices and strategies, as I aim to continuously self-reflect on the effectiveness

of my instruction.
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Bachman, L., & Palmer, A. (2010). Language assessment in practice. Oxford,

Oxford University Press.

Stoynoff, S. (2012). Looking backward and forward at classroom-based language

assessment. ELT, 66, 523-532.