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Assessment and Evaluation Ideas

A look at strategies for assessing and evaluating students considering a specific group

I will analyze the strategies I generally use to assess and evaluate students considering a specific group. I will also outline which strategies are not feasible in my teaching context as well as those which require adaptations. I teach a group of eight-year old students who attend classes at a private school. They have English classes four days a week. The group is made up of twenty six students: sixteen girls and ten boys. The school is located in the city centre.

When assessing and evaluating students, I use a wide range of techniques. One of them includes the use of checklists. At the beginning of the academic year, I talk with students about what is essential for learning successfully and we agree on a set of criteria that we will use to assess behavior and performance on a daily basis. In order to do this, I have devised a sheet taking into account students’ expected and non- expected behavior. Students individually have to place the pictures which illustrate different kinds of behavior under the corresponding column (This makes me feel happy or sad). Then, we agree on a classroom chart with these same pictures placed under the corresponding column to be displayed on the classroom walls. Whenever a student breaks up something stated there, I simply point to the broken behavior code and students are expected to reflect on that. I have also designed a checklist which takes into account students’ participation, responsibility in bringing class materials, and behavior. It is really useful since it allows me to keep a record of students’ attitudes towards language learning and it encourages students to become responsible for their learning process. Doing this does not constitute an element of competition among learners because students are not given room to compare with other classmates. It is simply a tool to remind them about what matters most concerning attitudes, responsibility and discipline. This kind of formative evaluation has proved to be effective as it consists of a process of ongoing feedback on their everyday actions, responsibility and class work.

Another technique which I started implementing this year is the use of anecdotal records. I have sheets designated for each student where I record anecdotal notes, comments and the circumstances in which the learning experiences take place. When I started using this kind of assessment tool, I found it difficult because the group was a large one so I decided to focus on writing anecdotal records of five students per class. However, if something occurred concerning another student, I also documented that as well. The advantages of using this tool far outweighs its disadvantages. Although it might be time consuming to write anecdotal records of students, it has helped me get a more accurate picture of my learners’; not only in terms of their performance but also as regards significant daily events and comments which can shed light on their learning processes.

With this class, I mostly work with projects, with hands-on activities and tasks. Each student has his/her own portfolio. At the beginning of the year, we set up the guidelines for the content of portfolios and we establish criteria for the samples students decide to include in them. I generally tell students that they have to choose three reasons for which to include samples in their portfolios. I brainstorm ideas on the board and then we vote on the most interesting criteria. We also include “can do statements” sheets for students to go through their portfolio and assess their performance in terms of the skills they have mastered. This is done in English with very simple language and each can do statement is illustrated with a picture so as to aid comprehension.

I also administer tests to students. The tests are integrative assignments covering the linguistic exponents and language practices which students are expected to have mastered over a given period of time. Most of them are based on the stories we read and work with on in class. For example, last term, we worked with “Little Red Riding Hood” and students were asked to write the dialogue going on between the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood when the wolf pretends to be granny. By doing this, students integrated their knowledge of body parts and adjectives in a creative and engaging way.

In my teaching context, I have realized that carrying out private interviews with students is not feasible because the rest of the class starts getting distracted and making noise. I generally talk to students in private concerning issues of utmost importance; for example, when their attitudes in class are not the expected ones, I try to figure out what is happening to that student by talking to him/her privately. I also carry out interviews with parents before and after class time to talk about their children’s behaviour, progress, attitudes towards learning and to point out areas that need improvement.

As a conclusion, it is advisable to consider a wide range of assessment and evaluation strategies since this helps us teachers identify more in detail areas that need improvement. It is important to encourage students’ self-assessment as this promotes autonomous learning and helps them assume more responsibility for their own learning. Although not all the strategies seem easy to implement, it is worth trying most of them and adapting them to suit our particular teaching contexts.

Written by Yesica Galliano for EnglishClub | July 2014
2010: Teacher of English. Instituto Superior Juan XXIII, Argentina. 2011: Cambridge University Exams: TKT Modules 1,2, 3, KAL and CLIL. About to finish "Licenciatura en la Enseñanza del Idioma Inglés"

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