1. An understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes
I am not teaching at the moment as the new school year does not start until the beginning of April. Therefore, I will try and describe an assessment from a previous course. I mentioned in the Week 2 post about Operational Issues that my school does not have a lot of technology available to support staff or students; there is no LMS for example, and Wi-Fi has only recently been installed. As a result, I encourage students to use free software tools outside of lessons (see Cowie & Sakui, 2015, 2018).
One course I teach is for second-year students who have to take a compulsory English course twice a week for 8 weeks. They are from various faculties such as science, engineering, and environmental science. Many of them are very switched off foreign languages and do not want to take part actively in lessons – therefore using technology is a way to engage their interest without pressuring them too much to ‘perform’. I get them to produce four Powerpoint slide presentations with audio that they upload to YouTube and share on Google Community (I previously used Brainshark but this software was phased out).
Students view each other’s slideshows and complete a rubric. The rubric was created by first brainstorming ideas on Padlet (see screenshot below) and guiding the students to develop various criteria and levels of performance (see Cowie & Sakui 2016). In this way, I think that the students were encouraged to consider important features of a presentation which they could use in their own work. In theory, at least, the goals and outcomes of the course could be ‘constructively aligned’ (Biggs & Tang, 2007).
I collect the rubrics using a survey on Google Forms. In addition, I give comments to each student on Google Community (see two examples below). These generally correspond to each feature of the rubric and are formative rather than summative. I don’t give any grades online.
2. An understanding of your target learners
As mentioned above my target learners in this example are from various faculties. They may be very good at their special subject but they are often not at a high level in English, particularly in terms of speaking and listening and skills. They do, however, like to research about their own interests (e.g., robots, car engines, soil pollution) and so I encourage them to create multimedia presentations on these kinds of topics. Very often they have never used PowerPoint or any of the Google tools so I have to teach them. I do that using videos I make myself and post on YouTube.
I would like the students to use English to discuss, brainstorm and plan their projects but many of them are just not at a level where they can do this. Instead, I make two of the four projects collaborative so they have to work with a partner(s) using shared Google Slides. Again, this is new for most of them and is a motivating technological tool based on constructivist approaches to learning in general (Vygotsky, 1978) and task-based learning in EFL in particular (Ellis, 2003)
I think it is very good that students could have some input into their own rubric although I think this works better with students at a relatively higher level of English. Google Community is a nice alternative to an LMS but it doesn’t have the option of collating student input in any easy way so using it as a tool for assessment is quite tedious. Collecting data on Google Forms is a lot easier and you can easily make a spreadsheet with student-generated data.
The projects themselves were often very good. It is not always fun to look at another teacher’s student’s work but here are two that give a flavour of the work:
a. This is a slightly humorous advice video on how to take a train in Japan. I showed it to my brother (from the UK) who was visiting and found it useful:
b. One from an agriculture student presenting about ‘supercows’
Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for Quality Learning at University (3rd ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Education & Open University Press.
Cowie, N., & Sakui, K. (2015). Assessment and e-learning: Current issues and future trends. The JALT CALL Journal, 11, 3, 271-281.
Cowie, N., & Sakui, K. (2016). The use of rubrics for the assessment of digital products in language learning. In M. Iguchi & L. Yoffe (Eds.) Mobile learning in and out of the classroom: Balancing blended language learner training (pp. 12-17). Proceedings of The 42nd (2015) JACET Summer Seminar. The Japan Association of College English Teachers.
Cowie, N. & Sakui, K. (2018). Learning English through digital projects: A Japanese university case study. Osaka JALT Journal, 5, 20-43.
Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford, New York: Oxford Applied Linguistics.
Vygotsky, L (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press