In-the-moment or feed-forward: a review of online formative assessments used in ELT modules in British universities

Abedin, Manzoorul ORCID: (2021) In-the-moment or feed-forward: a review of online formative assessments used in ELT modules in British universities. In: Local Research and Global Perspectives in English Language Teaching. Routledge. (In Press)

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Feedback is central to student learning and achievement. There is, however, a wide-ranging student dissatisfaction with feedback in the British universities (Bloxham, 2014), and worryingly, as research suggest, students do not read or engage with teacher-written feedback. The ‘feedback gap’ (Evans, 2013) between teacher efforts and student reflection contradicts the effectiveness of feedback to help improve student performance. 'Help not hinder' - has been the basis of assessment strategies in the British universities as they face prolonged closure of face-to-face teaching with all traditional examinations suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic. In this chapter, I focus on 6 purposively-selected universities – 3 traditional and 3 modern (post-1992) – to look at their assessment strategies in ELT modules (Level 4-7) as all universities moved to various online modes of assessments. “We cannot do away with exams; it is integral to the system" - is a concern came strongly from all universities amidst worries about equity, validity, and transparency of online assessments and feedback. Findings show that universities have relied on a variety of methods – coursework, essay portfolio to one-to-one online formative assessment. In a distance learning environment, one-to-one formative feedback meetings are not about ‘grading’ but about students’ engagement, reflection and learning from the feedback. ‘In-the-moment’ or spontaneous observation of student engagement helps teachers act on the factors that affect student learning – their experiences, circumstances and preferences, and this is more so, as teachers argue, for ELT modules that typically have international and mixed-ability cohorts. Small modern universities have gone further to consider self-assessment and home-based assessments, and are in touch with students regularly to motivate and train them to take responsibilities of their own learning. In addition (not necessarily as an alternative of the above), universities have explored and employed ‘feed-forward’ strategies within ELT modules. In order to challenge the feedback gap and student non-engagement with feedback, feed-forward is teacher guidance or notes either (a) to be given post-assignment with specific direction linked to future assignments, or b) to have a direct impact upon an upcoming assignment. These findings suggest that online formative assessments in ELT modules and beyond have decisively moved towards a ‘future-orientation’ of the feedback process to help promote meaningful teacher and student dialogue about feedback and to maximise its impact on future student performance.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Education > Higher education > HE pedagogies
Depositing User: Manzoorul Abedin
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2021 08:08
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:15

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