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Candidate of Sciences (Philology) Chugu Svitlana Dmytrivna
Vinnytsia Institute of Trade and Economics
Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics
ASSESSMENT: THEORY AND PRACTICES
This article discusses ways of how awareness about language testing benefits language learners in different contexts, institutional and pedagogical in particular. It also focuses on self-assessment as instrumental for reinforcing the language learning process and increasing students' motivation. The merits and perspectives of systematic use of portfolio assessment regarded as one of the major forms of self-assessment are examined as well.
Assessment in the ESP/EFL is a significant issue throughout the academic community in Ukraine due to the introduction of innovative approaches and technological advances into the field that resulted in the important changes in the English language testing in the country. Still the issue remains urgent despite the adoption of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages the standards remain nationally formatted. In this respect the effective ways to develop English language tests and assessment procedures in accordance with national and international requirements and practices are one of the major tasks for educationalists, material writers and teachers.
The necessity to provide an opportunity for ELT professionals and language students to be aware of various approaches to language testing, language exams and test development calls for special research of different aspects of testing procedures . An important dimension in the development of language testing is the need for raising awareness about the testing process that is connected primarily with the understanding on the part of the language learners of what language skills are tested, how the testing is done, and how the performance at tests is assessed. It is evident that more explicit language learning standards and testing methods can ensure validity of tests as well as enhance explicit descriptions of desired learning achievements.
In the recent years interest has intensified in self-assessment that foregrounds learning. It has gained considerable recognition among teachers and researchers because this form of assessment claims to promote student learning. Self-assessment is defined as the involvement of students in identifying standards and criteria to apply to their work and making judgments about the extent to which they have met these criteria and standards . The understanding of self-assessment as a two-fold process leads to the necessity to identify both the standards as well as the judgments that are to be based on them. Traditionally self-assessment was viewed as a formal, systematic exercise in the assessment done by the teacher.
Assessment used to be done in the testing format with the focus on the quantitative results of students, practically with no feedback. Given the approach, there was no way to improve language learning effectively. To make assessment more meaningful a lot of effort has been put lately. One of the workable ways is to use self-assessment in a systematic way. The theoretical and applicable rationale demonstrate that the learning process, which is conscious, when students evaluate their performance according to certain principles and criteria, results in helping them assess their progress critically and modify their learning so that to set higher goals and adapt the use of personal resources and learning styles to meet the standard requirements.
Self-assessment in the ESP/EFL classroom is to be regarded a cultural, psychological, and pedagogical issue and dealt with accordingly. Numerous studies of the problem [1, 2] prove that students, while involved in the assessment process, face a number of difficulties, different in character and content, as being able to get involved in the process requires not only good knowledge on the part of the learner, but also the understanding of how students become knowledgeable, skillful, self-regulated, and independent, as undoubtedly it is meaningful instruction that provides quality education.
The ability to critically assess one's own work may be a goal of higher education irrespective of whether or not self-assessment exercises as such are involved . It is portfolio assessment that has become of primary importance in authentic assessment, regarding the introduction of the competency-based curriculum, self-assessment being regarded one of the three basic elements of portfolio assessment.
Innovative approaches toward language learning make assessment imperative in the ESP/EFL classroom as it is closely connected with learners' autonomy, so evaluation of the progress by students themselves has to include students' assessment of their academic results and performance . Due to its effectiveness self-assessment is to be considered one of the key tools to evaluate students' progress in the innovative context of ESP/EFL instruction to meet the challenges of the global world of communication. In practice self-assessment refers to training students to evaluate their own work for the purpose of improving it, as in order to be capable of evaluating their results, students must have a clear understanding of the goal, target, ways and resources so that to get an idea of quality work feedback and to correct or self-adjust their studying. This way they will be able to use reflective activities in which they are prompted to consider the strengths and weaknesses of their work and results, make plans for improvement or integrate the assignment with previous learning.
Undoubtedly, neither teachers nor students can succeed without a clear vision of what students must know and have to be able to do, or without the ability to turn that vision into actions that leads to high quality work . The role of teachers lies in the ability to make sure they have a clear target in mind for students by selecting a standard and a learning goal as a focus for the activity. Moreover, the standards-based education movement has grown out of the recognition that clear goals for learning are required to ensure quality education for all students .
Having taken these observations into account it becomes evident that both self-monitoring and self-correcting are instrumental activities in self-assessment, that is believed to be one of the basic elements of portfolio assessment. Portfolio assessment concerns both the process and the product of learning. While the final decision toward the student's result of learning is traditionally made by the teacher, the use of students' self-assessment is possible as process assessment. The results of the analysis show that, first, portfolio assessment affects significantly the students' speaking and writing ability in which those students learning these language areas with portfolio assessment achieve better than those learning the language with conventional assessment; besides, for those students having high achievement motivation in learning English, portfolio assessment affects better than conventional assessment; but, for those students having low achievement motivation in learning English, conventional assessment affects better than portfolio assessment. Further discussion is to be made concerning the relation between achievement motivation and portfolio assessment.
To conclude, the theoretical perspectives on assessment, particularly in the ESP/EFL context, confirm that self-assessment is a good tool to promote learning. It affects students' achievements positively and supports language learners' motivation while reinforcing their autonomy. Current research in the field proves that self-assessment can be regarded an effective combination of self-judgment and self-reaction, its use is to be based on the critical analysis of problems encountered by the students in different language areas to eliminate obstacles in the language learning process.
1. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
2. Gardner, D. & Miller, L. (1999). Establishing self-access. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
3. O'Malley, J.M. & Valdez Pierce, L. (1996). Authentic assessment for English language learners. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
4. Ross, J. A., Rolheiser, C., & Hogaboam-Gray, A. (2000). Effects of self-evaluation training on narrative writing. Assessing Writing, 6(l), 107-132.
5. Stiggins, R. (1997). Student-centered classroom assessment (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
6. Wiggins, G. (1998). Educative assessment: Designing assessments to inform and improve student performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.