Category Archives: Assessment

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