Understanding classroom-based assessment practices: a precondition for teacher assessment literacy
Kathryn Hill, La Trobe University, University of Melbourne
Volume 6, Issue 1, 2017
Abstract: The research suggests that while language teachers recognise the importance of developing their assessment literacy, they often have difficulty when it comes to articulating and prioritising their needs (Fulcher, 2012; Tsagari & Vogt, this issue). One explanation for this might be that they lack the means for reflecting in any systematic way on the nature of their classroom-based assessment (CBA) practices. In other words, teachers need to develop a better understanding of what they already do before they can start to think about which aspects of their CBA practices could be developed. This paper will describe a framework designed to help teachers identify and analyse their existing CBA practices as a precursor to reflecting on their professional development needs. Discussion of language teacher assessment literacy has tended to focus on the more planned and formal types of assessment. However, it is now widely recognised that classroom teachers are involved in a more or less continuous process of appraisal and, moreover, that the feedback provided in these more incidental and embedded forms of assessment can have a powerful effect on learning (Hattie, 2009). Hence, the framework described in this article attempts to present a view of CBA which encompasses the full spectrum of assessment practices, including the types of assessment which occur spontaneously in the course of routine classroom interactions (Leung, 2005; Purpura, Liu, Tsutagawa & Woodson, 2014). The starting point for this was an existing framework, based on an ethnographic study of CBA in language classrooms, designed to help researchers identify and make sense of observed CBA practices (Hill, 2012; Hill & McNamara, 2012). This framework was extended and elaborated with reference to principles of TAL as well as to the research on CBA more generally and reframed as a tool to help teachers make sense of their own assessment practices, which, it is argued, represents an essential pre-condition for developing assessment literacy.
Keywords: Language assessment; classroom-based assessment; teacher assessment literacy