An investigation of the teachers' and students' perceptions towards the assessment methods of English communication skills module

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An investigation of the teachers' and students' perceptions towards the assessment methods of English communication skills module

 

Author: Tam, Lai-wah
Title: An investigation of the teachers' and students' perceptions towards the assessment methods of English communication skills module
Degree: M.Ed.
Year: 2005
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Curriculum-based assessment -- China -- Hong Kong
English language -- China -- Hong Kong -- Ability testing
Department: School of Professional Education and Executive Development
Pages: ix, 96 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1809977
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/4092
Abstract: Background of the Study This study is based on the English Communication Skills module taught by the researcher at her educational institute - Hong Kong College of Technology. The module is a one-year compulsory core subject, offering to 44 full-time mode first-year higher diploma level students. The students are required to take a four-hour lecture weekly for the module. The module was conducted in First and Second Semester of 2002/3 (totally 26 weeks). The teachers are responsible for determining the assessments but no students are involved in setting the assessments. The teachers and students may have different perceptions of the same assessment since no attempts are taken to inform the students about what the assessment intends to assess. Mismatch will exist in the teachers' and students' perceptions where students may not learn what they are expected to learn as nominated in the curriculum. Purpose of Study When the teachers perceive the assessment methods can fully address the espoused learning objectives, but the students do not perceive what the teachers really intend. Mismatch exists which may hinder the way they are striving to achieve the espoused learning objectives. The purpose of this study is to explore both teachers' and students' perceptions of the assessment methods to find out whether mismatch exists in their perceptions towards the assessment methods of English Communication Skills module. With the help of the constructive alignment model (Biggs, 2003) the current assessment objectives and the espoused learning objectives of the module are examined to see whether they are aligned. The misalignment is identified and areas for improvement of the current assessment methods are explored. It is also hoped that the outcomes of this study may help to improve the assessment methods of the module in future. Research Methods The participants involved in this study included the teachers and students of the English Communication Skills module. The two full-time teachers had been teaching English in higher education for a couple of years and were well-experienced in teaching the English Communication Skills module. A majority of the students had got unsatisfactory results (i.e. bare pass without credit or distinction) in the HKCEE, AS and AL examinations and were not qualified for admission to receive tertiary education in university. The programme aimed at enhancing the standard of these students in order that at the end of the programme they were qualified to move into degree level studies. Interviews were conducted individually with the two teachers and ten selected students to freely express their views and ideas. Forty-four students were invited to complete the questionnaires to elicit their experiences, beliefs and feelings towards the current assessment methods of the module. The responses from the questionnaires and interviews were collected and analysed by a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. A compare and contrast process was taken place in the study to identify the gap between the current assessment objectives and espoused learning objectives. Major Findings of the Study The results of the study showed that the two selected teachers and a majority of participated students perceived the project, presentation and essay as the appropriate assessment methods for assessing the knowledge of the module. Presentation was found particularly useful in building up students' confidence in public speaking. Project could stimulate students' interest in learning the subject. Essay allowed students to develop higher order intellectual skills and abilities. Though the teachers used multiple-choice question to ensure coverage of a wider range of topics, it was less preferred by most students, since they were unable to show higher levels of learning in multiple-choice questions as demanded in essays. Both teachers and students found portfolio inappropriate in addressing the learning objectives of the module and should be replaced by performance (authentic) assessment tasks such as interview, debate and drama. Besides, a gap between the current assessment objectives and the espoused learning objectives was identified in the compare and contrast process. All findings from the quantitative and qualitative data were interpreted to see whether there were any significant patterns. Conclusions The results from the analysis of the data collected from the questionnaires and interviews provided insights into teachers' and students' perceptions towards the current assessment methods. There was the meeting of minds within both teachers and students as both suggested more projects, presentations and essay writings to be included in the assessment process. In contrast to the explanations of the teachers who preferred to use multiple-choice question to gain a breadth of knowledge, the students disapproved multiple-choice question which encouraged a surface approach to the unit content. The other assessment methods such as short answer question, long answer question and reflective journal were recognised as appropriate assessment methods for assessing knowledge of the module. The gap between the current assessment objectives and espoused learning objectives was identified. The results derived from the analysis of data were interpreted and conclusions were drawn with a view to exploring areas for improvement of the current assessment methods and defining directions for future research. Finally, the pedagogic applications of the present study were examined to discover new approaches for future educational process and development.

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