The challenges for esp learners: alternative assessment of performance and usefulness of class activities

Galina Kavaliauskienė, Lilija Anusienė, Ligija Kaminskienė

Abstract


Alternative assessment has been widely used in education at tertiary level. The key features of alternative assessment are active participation of learners in evaluation of their own performance and the development of reflective thinking. Success of alternative assessment depends on performance that demonstrates what learners can do with language in communicative classrooms. Active participation of learners in evaluating themselves and one another is part of alternative assessment which is normally presented in the form of reflections on one’s performance. A recent Google search produced 60,300,000 hits for ‚alternative assessment’ (March 2007). It demonstrates the importance and relevance of this issue in teaching and learning a  foreign language.
The research aimed at investigating the challenges of alternative assessment in linguistic development of learners in English for Specific Purposes. The study employed a students’ questionnaire on utility of various activities, and in-course and post-course written reflections on learners’ performance and linguistic development. Portfolios were used for alternative assessment of students’ work throughout the academic year. The portfolio items included written materials like summaries, tests, definitions of vocabulary items, essays, Power Point Presentations, etc. Impact of either creative activities or contributions to portfolio on learning was analyzed. Data obtained from three streams of respondents are compared. The findings were processed using software Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).
The findings demonstrated that alternative assessment is a helpful means for learner linguistic development. Learners’ likes or dislikes to various creative or routine activities are affected by success or failure in their performance. Learners’ reflections on usefulness of various tasks and quality of their performance in different activities help teachers develop ways of dealing with difficulties and promote linguistic development.

Keywords


alternative assessment; linguistic development; reflections on performance; portfolio; Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789