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Having used formative assessment in my class before and been given written and verbal feedback on this, I feel this is a great method to check my students’ understanding of the subject matter at various stages of their foreign language teaching course. Of course, my formative assessment procedure needs work, and getting to know how much of the subject matter the students have processed is a major factor of myself succeeding in my class and developing educationally. My course and the modules within it are on a set time limit and students have some difficult days of study absorbing all the information as within their 20 hours of study they have many modules to complete. From this it means that students must be able to comprehend the subject matter; take in all that the teacher offers and be able to show this in their practice teaching. Although I am fundamentally teaching the basics of TEFL and what they essentially need to begin their first teaching experience, I still need to give them more than enough information to achieve this. This leads me to improve on my approach, method, and techniques to enhance the learning experience, so that each and every student has grasped the subject matter of the module, and can walk away after the course feeling they have the confidence and the knowledge to prepare for their first teaching assignment while at the same time the knowledge they have gained will inject that incentive to further their studies and their teaching. As well as improving on my delivery and content, I would like to see the students’ collaboration heightened during the formative assessment. By formative assessment, I not only need to know the content delivered is valuable but also to see students showing others what they have learnt and recognising what others have learnt that they may not have noticed. This I feel can be enhanced by formative assessment of each module during the course.
The first aspect of formative assessment is that it focuses on the feedback received which will then be used to adjust the students’ learning and make positive changes. This puts the focus on meaningful formative assessment such as ‘when students are involved in the process through peer and self-assessment’ (Black & Wiliam,1998). Furthermore, formative assessment will judge the students’ comprehension of each module over the period of study. Important to this research is to collate what concepts and skills the students have found to be most important while showing which ones they should have recognised. This highlights the fact of mastery of learning that by showing that they have identified concepts and skills students can progress which confidence. Various formative assessments will be completed over the students’ course of study; written and verbal feedback will be taken. This will form the bulk of my research.
When it comes to the students’ actual practice teaching, the method of research will be achieved by direct observation. This will observe those aspects of teaching that highlight clear instruction, lesson content, delivery, time, and action. Although this will be reactive observation, no judgments will be made on their teaching but this will be used as a statement of progress. Observation forms will be filled out and given to the students. Paired with each formative assessment are specific “corrective” activities for students to use in correcting their learning difficulties (Guksky, 2005, pg4). This formative assessment research will focus on the students collaborating in group activities to help their development; therefore, I must differentiate the students’ instruction, both in their initial teaching and especially through corrective activities (Bloom, 1976).
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‘If you want it done right, do it yourself’ is a seeming generalised way of introducing the subject of Action Research, this may succinctly give an idea of what it is, although as this piece of writing on action research continues I will delve a little deeper into how this research process relates to what the teacher can do to enhance a holistic experience within their classroom. This ‘teacher can do’ approach is echoed by British educational thinker Lawrence Stenhouse who said ‘curriculum research and development ought to belong to the teacher’ (Stenhouse, 1975 p. 142). Stenhouse proposed that the teacher’s work should not be studied; they themselves should be the ones studying it.
Additionally, Wilfred Carr, a Professor of Philosophy of Education, and Stephen Kemiss, Professor of Education, stress ‘since only the practitioner has access to commitment and practical theories which inform praxis, only the practitioner can study praxis. When teaching is looked at from an outside perspective, it can be seen to be difficult. Action Research as a study of praxis must thus be research into one’s own practice (Carr & Kemmis (1986: 191). The focus here is on a world of teaching that is constantly changing and the social situations that teachers find themselves in with their teaching where they can make a social and organisational change. The teacher can then be the one who is in charge of the situation for change whilst with the participation of others, namely the stakeholders, striving for everyone’s well-being in education.
Moreover, Action Research is learning by consulting and daily problem solving and what the teacher can do to improve on the situations that surface through their teaching. Thus, within this daily practice, the teacher has to identify a problem, they have experienced, then imagine how they may change this, thus putting a plan of action together to overcome it. Once this plan has been instigated, it is to evaluate how the plan effectively succeeded or not. Action Research does not stop there as the focus is on cyclical research, so in this process, once the evaluation’s results have been collated, the process can start again where the class is modified on the back of the results. This may well end up as an ongoing process as shown in Stephen Kemmis’ diagram. In short, Action Research can be explained as – identifying the problem, then resolving it, then seeing how successful it was, then if you are not satisfied, do it again.
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