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volume 2, número 1, jan./jun. 2002
Linguagem em (Dis)curso
Linguagem em (Dis)curso
volume 2, número 1,
Márcia Irene da Fonseca*
Resumo: O propósito deste artigo
é levantar algumas reflexões sobre avaliação,
seus tipos; quem, como, o que, onde, quando e porque avaliar. Não
é uma idéia pronta, mas um ponto de partida para construirmos
uma boa interação entre ensino e aprendizagem. Aqui, o objetivo
é promover um (re-)pensar de tudo o que temos aprendido sobre avaliação
e começar a organizar informação em benefício
de nossos alunos.
Palavras-chave: Tipos de avaliação, alternative assessment.
Abstract: This essay is to raise some
reflections on assessment, its types; who, how, what, where, when and why
evaluate. It is not a ready idea but a starting point to serve as a guideline
to construct a good teaching-learning interaction. Here, the aim is to
promote a (re-) thinking of everything we have been learning about assessment
and start organizing information in benefit of our students.
This article has
the goal of reflecting on assessment. This is not a recipe where a full
description of evaluation steps can be found. It is a way to share experiences
and promote a discussion on teachers and learners’ evaluation during the
learning process, since both are evaluated along the educational path.
Teachers check their teaching efficiency and learners check their knowledge
acquisition, while interacting in class.
Assessment is a process
of measuring learning. “Assessment is done in order to have a feedback
to aid learning and for a comparable measure of competence” (Dudley-Evans, St. John, 1998, p. 210). Assessment has its purpose on checking progressive
learning and competence development. There are different types of evaluation.
Some of them are listed below.
I myself prefer alternative
forms of assessment. When teaching English classes, I apply:
“…under supervision and require candidates to answer
questions in a given time limit, without reference to books or other
people; learners are not involved in a setting or grading tests” (Dudley-Evans
& St. John, 1998, p.211).
Quantitative testing (based
on results only)
Summative (done at the end
of the term by summing up grades)
check learners’ proficiency level oral or written to apply to a higher level)
Achievement (a term final average, for example)
(to check learners’ proficiency level oral or written)
“…can be based on work carried out over a period of time and is more flexible
and formative; learners may have some say in what the assessed task will be and
can use additional resources to complete the work” (Dudley-Evans & St. John,
Qualitative testing (feedback on learning process) Formative (done along the term by reviewing,
(learners assess themselves)
Peer evaluation (learners’ colleagues are responsible
by their evaluation)
Portfolio assessment (assessment based on a group of previous
tasks, gathered in a portfolio
in order to check learners’ improvement, for example)
Group work (re-construction
of knowledge by socializing research)
Self-assessment is not an
easy task to be asked to students without establishing topics to be used
as evaluation patterns. Learners with low self-esteem are not able to self-assess.
If they do not trust, like, or really know themselves as individuals and
social agents in their communities – important people for society – may
have nothing to say but wondering around with no precise ideas. On the
other hand, there will be learners with excessive high self-esteem who
may say wonderful things about themselves but the truth. In one case or
the other, learners lose the meaning of self-assessment and the contributions
it has for the growth of their maturity and knowledge acquisition.
Peer evaluation is another
point to be focused on. Because of a traditional way of learning – teacher-centered
lessons – where teachers are the owners of knowledge and students are supposed
to repeat everything teachers say, peer evaluation may be faded to be a
big disaster since learners are not used to think of assessment as a means
of observing their own learning processes but a way to be stressed, with
long lists of contents to be memorized and, sometimes, a punishment for
having not studied appropriately, or worst, not having behaved themselves
during explanations in class.
Because of that, it is useful
to think , discuss and establish evaluation patterns with students to develop
an environment of confidence, maturity and responsibility. It is a means
to develop teaching targets and ways to achieve teachers and learners’
goals. When I teach, I like to make it clear to my students that, as future
professionals, they have to start practicing while they are learners to
internalize mature behavior, develop learning strategies, recognize insights
and the purpose of being studying this or that content. Hence, when establishing
how they are going to be evaluated (self-assess or peer evaluation), I
write some key words on the board:
a) self-assess: I assign
an exercise based on a studied content and ask students to answer it (dialogs,
business letters, memos);
b) then, I read the answers,
underline errors and ask them (the authors) to correct their own exercises.
At the end, they present their productions to the big group and I collect
the exercises to take notes of how they are evolving in their learning process;
c) peer evaluation: Sometimes,
my students exchange exercises with their colleagues to be evaluated by
their peers. At the end of the activity, I collect the exercises to write
a report on my students’ learning performance to give an overall feedback
as part of a final grade at the end of the term;
d) group work: by the means
of group work, I divide a topic into sub-themes and assign them to the
groups. The students research, organize their ideas and present them at
the end. After the presentations, I collect the data and, with the learners,
we re-write the theme as a reinforcement activity. “Learners are closely
involved in the decision-making process regarding the content of the curriculum
and how it is taught” (Nunan, 1988, p. 2).
Teaching can be a much more
enjoyable activity if teachers are aware of their responsibility to keep
learners growing in knowledge acquisition. By getting learners involved
in teaching, teachers have students interested in class all the time. To
achieve such level of involvement, it is necessary to design an appropriate
syllabus to fit all teaching needs.
A good syllabus design relies
on the analysis of students’ needs (Needs Analysis), “target-centered,
looking at the learners’ future role(s) and attempts to specify what is
needed in order to perform the role(s) adequately” (Bloor, 1984, p.15).
Besides, a process-based curriculum (focusing on the learning process,
not the final product) - based on a task-based curriculum, a needs-based
curriculum and learner-based curriculum - is an appropriate beginning to
design appropriate syllabi (Celce-Murcia, Olshtain, 2000, p.188)in order
to develop alternative ways of assessment. Syllabus design is not our aim
here, but it is important to be mentioned in terms of developing a reliable
set of alternative testing activities.
On the other hand, a traditional
qualitative test is a good way to check how far the teaching-learning processes
are going in terms of knowledge (re-)construction. Hence, a traditional
test would be used as a diagnosis only, a tool to check the process, not
a final and definite result (product).
a) who (persons to be evaluated:
learners – regarding to all learning processes, and teachers – how effective
is their teaching);
b) how (self-assessment,
peer evaluation, group evaluation);
c) what (participation,
interest, topic presentation, concerns related to colleagues’ understanding
of the presented topic, research development, punctuality, attendance,
d) where (class, library,
places to be collecting data, etc.);
e) when (dates to work on
f) why (understand the (individual
and social) reasons to be doing such activities).
BLOOR, M. Course
design: identifying the components of a language syllabus: a problem for
designers of courses in ESP or communication studies. In: Common ground:
shared interests in ESP and communication studies. R. Williams, J. Jwales,
J. Kirkman, (eds). ELT Documents 117, Oxford: Pergamon Press.
CELCE-MURCIA, M. OLSHTAIN,
E. Discourse in language teaching. U.S.: CUP, 2000.
DUDLEY-EVANS, T., St.
JOHN, M. Developments in English for specific purposes. U.K.: Cambridge
University Press, 1998.
NUNAN, D. The learner-centered
curriculum. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Professora Marcia Irene
Fonseca teaches English,
Business English and
Tecnologies Applied to
Language Studies at
Universidade do Sul de Santa
Catarina - Unisul. She also
organizes the Unisul
language Program to make it
operações each semester. She
attends the New Mexico State
University Master's Program.