Reflections on a Course: Post 4 (Week 5)

We are moving forward and our goal seems to clarify. It’s hard to cope with online courses, regular work and a busy family… but the course is proving extremely useful in terms of fruitful reflection about ELT and the future of teaching.

This week we have worked on assessment. For many years the question about the true sense of assessing/evaluating students has been a controversial issue. Many professionals declared it was necessary to mark our students’ progress in order to help them see how far they had got in their learning progress… we all agreed that it was necessary for students to know if they had reached that established “passing line”. The problem arises when we consider what is the best way to use that indicator, and how it is presented to the student. A simple bulletin with letters A to D or a 1-10 scale for every subject? That only shows ho far the student scored… but does that help him in his/her learning process?
The answer is “Not much”. A simple mark is useless in the long run. What a student needs is a clarifying proof of his/her progress: Weaknesses and strengths, what students need in order to acquire knowledge/information/contents/skills/abilities… what they have done that has helped in their positive progress.

Rubrics stem out the concept of alternative assessment. Each rubric created fits the profile of the specific activity, drill, project or issue it describes.
“Descriptors” help students see the level of attainment/achievement of the specific performance, production or aspect described. It is therefore much easier than in traditional assessment to see the weakness or strength in that aspect. That highly depends on the accuracy of those “descriptors”. Teachers must be very specific when creating these explanatory items that show what the learner must attain and the possible degrees of achievement.

Even though many rubrics can be found in the Net for every aspect we can think of (for listening activities, for grammar,for projects…) It is much better if we create our own rubric for the specific project or activity we have planned. It will depict our students’ profile and their needs more accurately and it will therefore fit their possible outcomes and progress more proficiently. Rubrics can be created online at no cost in sites such as Rubistar.

Photo: Gabriel Pollard

6 thoughts on “Reflections on a Course: Post 4 (Week 5)

  1. Yuliya

    Hi, Ricard!
    It has become my weekly procedure to comment your posts on the blog!

    I share your point that though it is difficult to deal with all the things that crop up the course is extremely fruitful and not only in terms of reflections but also the products we get (rubrics, WebQuests, projects of our own)
    Unfortunately, the situation in many educational institutions around the world is such that students tend to get just a 5, a 4, a 3, even a 2 with little idea why or what was wrong. Rubric is a key to showing way to success. Self assessment is easier with rubrics.

    You underline the fact that being specific is crucial. I am here with you. There are no universal rubrics, which will meet all the needs of the students.
    Ricard, have you ever tried involving your students into the process of creating rubrics for specific activities and projects? Do you think such collaboration can be beneficial for both students and teachers? Shall the students be allowed to that “kitchen”?

    Ricard, I would also like to express my admiration with \”2.0 Tools… and ESL by Ricard Garcia\”. Impressive! Useful! Inspirational! Have you used all these tools?


  2. Luísa Lima

    Hi, Ricard.

    I also agree that as far as rubrics go the best ones are those you build thinking about the task and what you expect from the students. Still, rubistar can be a great help and sometimes you only need to make some adjustments. What is important is that if you start creating, adapting and using rubrics, you will soon have your own repertoire.
    There is, however, something we cannot forget. Our students are having exams that will decide their professional life and we also have to prepare them to pass those exams, which implies some training and making them used to such tests. Their future may depend on that although we all agree that other skills should be more relevant when entering university.

  3. rgarcia5 Post author

    Thanks for the good things you say, Yuliya! In fact, part of my job is to make new resources and new approaches availables to teachers, so I enjoy doing it!
    I’m not teaching at the moment, but when I did I was not familiar with rubrics. I found them when I began to deal with webquests.

    Hugs. Yuliya and thanks again!!

  4. rgarcia5 Post author

    You are right, Luisa! But I think we must try to prepare students in cuch a competent way through a communicative approach that may help them face any kind of test successfully!

    Thanks again! (Obrigado)

  5. Yuliya

    Hi, Ricard!

    You are doing great job! I wish we had such a person in ministry of education in my country. We have to spend a great deal of time on looking for new resources. Then there are those teacher who do not know what to start from. Had they been advised some on-line platforms or just sites they could have done much.

    Ricard, good luck to you in what you are doing!


  6. rgarcia5 Post author

    Thanks, Yuliya!!
    The same problem happens in Catalonia and Spain. Teachers are really busy and don’t have time to surf the net scanning for resources.. and that’s where I try to get, by showing them what they can do with those resources they learn.

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