Tài liệu An investigation into english classroom assessment practices in three primary schools in hanoi = điều tra thực trạng giáo viên tiếng anh đánh giá học sinh trong quá trình học tập trên lớp tại 3 trường tiểu học hà nộ

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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES PHẠM LAN ANH AN INVESTIGATION INTO ENGLISH CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT PRACTICES IN THREE PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN HA NOI Điều tra thực trạng giáo viên Tiếng Anh đánh giá học sinh trong quá trình học tập trên lớp tại 3 trường tiểu học ở Hà Nội A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Major: English Language Teaching Methodology Code: 62140111 Hanoi, 2015 VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES PHẠM LAN ANH AN INVESTIGATION INTO ENGLISH CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT PRACTICES IN THREE PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN HA NOI Điều tra thực trạng giáo viên Tiếng Anh đánh giá học sinh trong quá trình học tập trên lớp tại 3 trường tiểu học ở Hà Nội A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Major: English Language Teaching Methodology Code: 62140111 Supervisor: Dr. TÔ THỊ THU HƢƠNG Hanoi, 2015 STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP I, the undersigned, certify my authority of the dissertation entitled ―An Investigation into English Classroom Assessment Practices in Three Primary Schools in Ha Noi‖ in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy. Except where the reference is indicated, no other person‘s work has been used without due acknowledgement in the text of the dissertation. PHAM LAN ANH i ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS AFL Assessment for Learning AOL Assessment of Learning ASL Assessment as Learning AFT Assessment for Teaching AI Assessment Incident AT Assessment Task CA Classroom Assessment CBA Classroom-Based Assessment DoET Department/Division of Education and Training DYNED Dynamic Education (software) EAL English as an Additional Language EFL English as a Foreign Language EPH Education Publishing House, Vietnam ESL English as a Second Language FA Formative Assessment IRF Initiative-Responsive-Feedback L2 Second Language MOET Ministry of Education and Training NIESAC National Institute for Education Strategy and Curriculum Development OUP Oxford University Press PIP Primary Innovation Project PPP Presentation-Practice-Production PToT Trainer of Primary Teachers Ss. Students TEYL Teaching English to Young Learners ZPD Zone of Proximal Development ii ABSTRACT Assessment has been one of the most heatedly debated issues worldwide. While on the global scale, classroom assessment (CA) has gained an increasing attention in educational practices and in research for decades, this type of assessment has very recently received an initial recognition in Vietnamese primary schools. The impact of CA in student learning, therefore, remains inclusive and needs further research. The study presented in this thesis was designed to seek deep insights into the CA practised by a group of primary EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers and the factors underlying such practices. To address this complex issue, a collective case study was conducted with 8 primary EFL teachers of English in 3 schools in Hanoi, Vietnam. Data were collected through classroom observations, interviews with teachers and students, and through assessment-related document/materials. The methodology was framed by a sociocultural constructivist approach that focused on 6 assessment components of CA (why, what, how, who, when, and how well to assess). The findings showed that the teachers‘CA practices were influenced by personal and contextual factors such as their beliefs of how children learn, constraints built into the curriculum, and institutional assessment requirements. There was a complex and non-linear relationship between teaching, learning and assessment practices related to CA due to the teachers‘ internalized conceptions of CA and contextual constraints including the educational policy. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This dissertation would not have been possible without the ongoing support and encouragement of a very large number of professors, colleagues and my family. Without the endless empathy, encouragement and expertise from Dr. Tô Thị Thu Hương – my supervisor, the completion of this study would never have happened. I would like to thank Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lê Hùng Tiến support staff and librarians at the Faculty of Postgraduate Studies who are ever so kind and helpful. A sincere appreciation goes out to the members of the special topic and the , Dr. Lê Văn institutional panels: Canh, Dr. Hoàng Thị Xuân Hoa, Dr. Hà Thị Cẩm Tâm, Dr. Nguyễn Huy Kỷ, Dr. Duong Thu Mai, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Võ Đại Quang for the assistance, guidance and enduring patience. In addition, I wish to express my gratitude to my colleagues – Nguyễn Chi Lan, Nguyễn Ngọc Lan, and Nguyễn Thúy Hạnh, whose comments made this study possible. I am also grateful to David Carless, David Vale, Janet Enever, Jaynee Moon, Rebecca Hales, Laura Grassic and Sophie Ioannou Georgiou for the invaluable ideas shared with me. I would also like to thank the administrators as well as the teachers and students of the three schools involved in my study for many acts of kindness, generosity and patience. Finally, my deep gratitude will always be with my family, my dear and supportive parents, my husband and my little children. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................1 1. Rationale ............................................................................................................................1 2. Significance of the study ....................................................................................................2 3. Context of the study ...........................................................................................................2 4. Aims and objectives of the study .......................................................................................7 5. Research questions .............................................................................................................8 6. Scope of the study ..............................................................................................................8 7. Structure of the study .........................................................................................................9 CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................................10 1.1. Assessment ....................................................................................................................10 1.1.1. Types of assessment...............................................................................................10 1.1.2. Formative and summative assessment ...................................................................11 1.2. Classroom assessment ...................................................................................................12 1.2.1. Boundary and definition of classroom assessment ................................................12 1.2.2. Classroom assessment for young EFL learners .....................................................14 1.2.2.1. Characteristics of young EFL learners ....................................................................14 1.2.2.2. Principles of classroom assessment of young EFL learners ...................................16 1.3. Components of classroom assessment ..........................................................................17 1.3.1. Purposes of assessment ..........................................................................................18 1.3.2. Assessment focus ...................................................................................................19 1.3.3. Assessment approaches and methods ....................................................................21 1.3.4. Agents of assessment .............................................................................................23 1.3.5. Assessment procedure............................................................................................24 1.3.6. Assessment strategies ............................................................................................25 1.4. Teachers‘ beliefs ...........................................................................................................27 1.4.1. Definitions of teachers‘ beliefs ..............................................................................27 1.4.2. Rationale for exploring teachers‘ beliefs ...............................................................28 1.4.3. Factors shaping teachers‘ beliefs ...........................................................................28 1.4.4. Previous studies on teachers‘ beliefs about CA .....................................................30 1.4.5. Approaches to explore teachers‘ beliefs ................................................................31 1.5. Teachers‘ classroom assessment practices ....................................................................32 1.5.1. Definition of classroom assessment practices .......................................................32 1.5.2. Previous studies on classroom assessment practices .............................................32 1.5.3. Approaches to explore teachers‘ classroom assessment practices .........................38 1.6. Chapter Summary..........................................................................................................38 v CHAPTER 2: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY .....................................................................40 2.1. Rationale for the research design ......................................................................................40 2.1.1. Qualitative approach ..................................................................................................40 2.1.2. Case study ..................................................................................................................41 2.2. Research procedure ...........................................................................................................42 2.3. Participants ........................................................................................................................44 2.4. Description of the three schools ........................................................................................49 2.5. Data collection ..................................................................................................................52 2.5.1. Instruments for data collection ...................................................................................54 2.5.1.1. Questionnaire and follow-up interview to select teachers in Stage 1 .....................54 2.5.1.2. Focus-group interviews in Stage 2 and Stage 3 ......................................................55 2.5.1.3. Stimulated recalls after each classroom observation session in Stages 2, 3 ...........57 2.5.1.4. Individual interviews after classroom observation process in Stage 3 ...................57 2.5.1.5. Classroom observations ..........................................................................................59 2.5.1.6. Artefacts ..................................................................................................................59 2.6. Data analysis .....................................................................................................................60 2.7. Measures to reduce subjectivity and increase validity ......................................................61 2.8. Chapter summary ..............................................................................................................63 CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS ...................................................................65 3.1. Teachers‘ self-reported practices and beliefs ....................................................................65 3.1.1. Teachers‘ beliefs about children as young language learners ....................................66 3.1.2. Teachers‘ beliefs about assessment ............................................................................68 3.2. Teachers‘ classroom assessment practices ........................................................................77 3.2.1. Assessment procedures ..............................................................................................78 3.2.1.1. Observing a typical student work to provide feedback for the whole class ........79 3.2.1.2. Teachers‘ marking/grading .................................................................................83 3.2.2. Approach and focus of assessment ............................................................................89 3.2.2.1. Approach and focus of assessment as reflected in the teachers‘ lesson plans ....89 3.2.2.2. Approach and focus of assessment as reflected in periodic and final tests .........94 3.2.2.3. Approach and focus of assessment as reflected in daily assessment .................96 3.2.3. Agents of assessment and assessment strategies ......................................................102 3.2.3.1. Sharing learning goals and information on assessment with students ..............103 3.2.3.2. Eliciting student understanding .........................................................................107 3.2.3.3. Giving feedback ................................................................................................111 3.2.3.6. Extending student learning ................................................................................118 3.2.3.7. Assessment strategies reflected in evidence of student learning ......................119 3.2.4. Purposes of assessment ............................................................................................123 vi 3.3. Relationship between teachers‘ beliefs, practices and contextual constraints ................126 3.3.1. Consistencies and discrepancies between teachers‘ beliefs and practices ...............126 3.3.2. Context constraints ...................................................................................................134 3.4. Chapter Summary............................................................................................................136 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................138 1. Recapitulation of the main findings ...............................................................................138 2. Concluding remarks ....................................................................................................143 3. Implications .................................................................................................................144 4. Limitations ..................................................................................................................147 5. Suggestions for further studies ....................................................................................148 REFERENCES.......................................................................................................................149 APPENDIX 1: DATA COLLECTION PROTOCOL ..................................................... CLXX APPENDIX 2: DATA ANALYSIS PROTOCOL ....................................................... CLXXIII APPENDIX 3: SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE IN STAGE 1.................................... CLXXVII APPENDIX 4: ANALYSIS OF THE SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE IN STAGE 1...............CLXXXVI APPENDIX 5: FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS IN STAGE 1 ............................................CCII APPENDIX 6: SAMPLE OF FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEW ....................................... CCVII APPENDIX 7: EXAMPLE OF PROCESSING DATA FROM FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEWS ..............................................................................................................CCXVIII APPENDIX 8: PROCESSED DATA FROM FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEWS .......... CCXXI APPENDIX 9: SOURCES OF TEACHERS‘ BELIEFS AND VALUES ................. CCXXIV APPENDIX 10: EXAMPLE OF FINDINGS IN SINGLE CASE.............................. CCXXXII Single case analysis................................................................................................. CCXXXII APPENDIX 11: FINDINGS ACROSS CASES ....................................................... CCXXXIV Meta-matrix for cross-case analysis ..................................................................... CCXXXIV APPENDIX 12: FEEDBACK PATTERNS ........................................................... CCXXXVII 9 Feedback patterns ............................................................................................. CCXXXVII Most used feedback patterns by every single case ................................................ CCXXXIX APPENDIX 13: INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW IN STAGES 2, 3 ................................... CCXL APPENDIX 14: CHECKLIST FOR CLASSROOM OBSERVATION IN STAGES 2, 3 ...........................................................................................................................................LXXX APPENDIX 15: TALLY SHEET FOR CLASSROOM OBSERVATION IN STAGE 2 ........................................................................................................................................ LXXXII APPENDIX 16: ARTEFACTS: PERIODIC AND FINAL TESTS ............................LXXXIII Test C2010 ................................................................................................................LXXXIII Test C2013 .................................................................................................................LXXXV Test D2010 ........................................................................................................................ XCI vii Test D2013 ....................................................................................................................XCVII Test BM2014 .................................................................................................................. XCIX APPENDIX 17: ANALYSIS OF PERIODIC AND FINAL TESTS .................................. CIII Periodic test evaluation ..................................................................................................... CIII Overall evaluation of periodic and final tests ................................................................ CVIII APPENDIX 18: BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF ALL ACTIVITIES IN 39 OBSERVED LESSONS ............................................................................................................................. CIX APPENDIX 19: ARTEFACTS: SAMPLE OF A LESSON PLAN ................................CXVII Tacher D‘s Lesson Plan ............................................................................................CXVII APPENDIX 20: EXAMPLE OF TRANSCRIBED LESSON ............................................ CXX Transcription of teacher D‘s lesson: Unit 3, Grade 3.................................................. CXX APPENDIX 21: EXAMPLE OF STIMULATED RECALL ........................................... CXXV Stimulated recall, Teacher D, Unit 3 Grade 3, Stage 2 ............................................ CXXV APPENDIX 22: EXAMPLE OF PROCESSED DATA FROM RAW DATA ........... CXXVIII Unit 13 Lesson 2, English 3, Grade 3, Teacher B, Stage 3 ......................................... CXXXI Lesson plan ............................................................................................................. CXXXI Transcribed lesson ............................................................................................... CXXXVII Stimulated recall...........................................................................................................CLV APPENDIX 23: STUDENT EVIDENCE AND SAMPLES OF STUDENTS‘ WORK .....CLX Workbook, Student S1B2F10 (in Teacher B2‟s class, Grade 5) ..................................CLXIII Writing book, Student 2S2D .......................................................................................... CLXX APPENDIX 24: EXAMPLE OF POST-OBSERVATION FEEDBACK SESSION TO STUDENTS ................................................................................................................ CLXXVII Teacher C2 .............................................................................................................. CLXXVII viii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1: Relationship between testing, measurement, assessment, and classroom assessment LIST OF TABLES Table 1.1: View on relative distinctions of Formative/Summative vs. Page 13 Page 19 AOL/AFL/AFT/ASL Table 2.1: Sources of data for the research sub-questions 43 Table 2.2. Brief profile of the five additional cases in Stage 3 48 Table 3.1: Common procedure: Whole-class teaching/revisiting of the content 80 as the result of checking a sample of students Table 3.2: Common procedure: Developing mental framework for future 82 remedies Table 3.3: Common procedure: Marking based on intuition 84 Table 3.4: Common procedure: Marking for managerial purpose 86 Table 3.5: Characteristics of CA practices employed by the eight teachers 128 Table 3.6: Teachers‘ purposes of assessment 132 Table 3.7: Summary of findings 136 ix INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale Following the growing tendency of lowering the age of EFL learners, together with innovations in education, the field of language assessment for young learners has received an increasing attention. Since young language learners possess special characteristics, assessing them needs to be motivational and child friendly as they have no reasons for learning a foreign language (Cameron, 2001; Hasselgreen, 2005; Mckay P., 2006; Moon, 2000). Moreover, classroom assessment practices for young learners demand a focus on the long-term learning process, rather than on the short-term outcome (Cameron, 2001; Hasselgreen, 2005; Hill & McNamara, 2011; Mckay P., 2006; McKay S. L, 2006; Rea-Dickins, 2007). This trend is parallel with the development of learning theories from Behaviourism to Sociocultural Constructivism, with the former being characterized as teacher-centeredness, surface learning, assessment of the final product of learning and a separation between teaching and assessment while the latter placing learning at the center of all educational activities and embedding assessment throughout the learning and teaching process (Cameron, 2001; Lambert & Lines, 2000; Mohamed, 2013; Popharm, 2008, Swaffield, 2008). In order to implement CA practices in the light of Sociocultural Constructivism, teachers are supposed to possess a sound knowledge base of the assessment components (Cameron, 2001; McKay S. L, 2006; Mohamed, 2013; Rea-Dickins, 2001; Swaffield, 2008), for example, specifying assessment purposes (why to assess), identifying the focus of assessment (what to assess), selecting/designing assessment methods (how to assess), integrating teacher assessment with self- and peer-assessment (who to assess), following the assessment procedure from planning, implementing and using the collected assessment data (when to assess and in what procedure), and employing effective assessment strategies (how well to assess). Also, teachers‘ beliefs about learning, teaching and assessment are expected to be parallel with the philosophy of CA from the sociocultural constructivist perspectives. Owing to its reported learning gains, CA has received an increasing attention in Vietnam. However, the reform in assessment practices in Vietnamese context seems to conflict the sociocultural constructivist view of CA originated in the western countries because didactic teaching, passive learning and traditional examinations for screening and selecting have been dominant in Vietnam for centuries (Le Van Canh, 2011; Pham Thi Hong Thanh, 2014). This local context has given the researcher the desire to conduct a qualitative case study to 1 investigate how and why the selected groups of teachers assess their young learners of English the way they do. Moreover, as a teacher trainer in the field of assessment, the researcher strongly feels that the preparation for future teachers to deal with the challenges in their career is essential. The personal interest behind this research is also to bridge the gap between theory and practice and to equip the pre-service teachers with practical assessment knowledge/skills in order to raise the quality of their future CA practices. A case study of the actual CA practices helps the researcher bring the course to life as students engage with practical assessment strategies that take into account the local culture and context of their future teaching. 2. Significance of the study Although CA is an important component in education, limited studies have been published on the actual CA practices, especially in primary EFL classrooms. Hence, this research is significant in raising awareness of CA among pre-service primary teachers, the researched teachers, and primary teacher trainers. This study is unique from other studies on CA practices because it does not focus on a particular aspect of the CA practices but examines the comprehensiveness and complexities of the whole process. The result of the research is useful for the primary schools in reviewing CA practices, helping them be more aware of the issue of assessment and its role in the overall course of teaching English as a foreign language to young learners. Essentially, the findings are intended to more clearly define the crucial factors underlying the teachers‘ classroom assessment practices. This, to certain extent, can contribute to greater educational success, improving teachers‘ assessment knowledge and practices, and formulating relevant professional development. 3. Context of the study This section presents an overview of the context of teaching and assessing English at primary level as well as the context of researching assessment in Vietnam (with a particular reference to Hanoi). It first examines factors affecting teachers‘ assessment practices, namely the policy and the status of English subject, the English curriculum, assessment policy, the status of English teachers, and teacher training. Then, the section provides an overview of the research context in assessment in general and CA in particular. Such background information prompted the research questions for the study in the settings of three schools in Hanoi. Generally 2 speaking, the three schools were placed within the context of teaching and assessing English as described below. Details about the specific contexts of the three schools are going to be discussed in section 2.4. a. Context of teaching and assessing English Although English has been recognized as a widely taught foreign language in Vietnam, it is still treated as a subject for study rather than as a living language to be spoken in daily conversation (Hayes, 2008a/b; Moon, 2005). Within the framework of the 2020 Project on Foreign Languages Teaching and Learning in the National Education System in the period 2008-2020, English teaching and learning, which is supposed to be stagely implemented, is to follow 10 year compulsory curriculum, starting from Grade 3 with time allocation of 4 periods of 40 minutes per week. The 10 year curriculum (MOET, 2010) is claimed to take account of the needs of young learners in primary school, which are different from the needs of older children in secondary school. As stated in the document, the principle of developing primary English curriculum is to emphasize communicative competences and therefore seeks to promote more communicative teaching methods through coherent themes and topics, which are meaningful and relevant to the student‘s world (MOET, 2010). The guiding principle also specifies that primary age children should be recognized as still developing cognitively (MOET, 2010). They are not able to think abstractly or to analyze the structures of languages (MOET, 2010). The teaching and assessing methods need, therefore, to be based on the curiculum with adequate opportunities for the young learners to practise language skills in meaningful contexts that are suitable for their cognitive, social, and psychological development (MOET, 2010). Specifically, ―assessment of student achievement must be aligned with the curriculum aims and performance objectives, based on the performance standards for the four macro-skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Student achievement is assessed and measured through a combination of continuous and periodic assessment, with an emphasis being placed on evidences of children‘s communicative competence in the learning process. Evidence of student achievement is also collected from teacher observation and teacher feedback throughout the entire academic year. Formats of assessment should be varied, including both written and spoken.‖ (translated, Guideline 6, p. 15). The curriculum, however, provides merely general guidelines and philosophy of CA. As such, prior to 2012, the assessment practice of English was guided by the circular No 32/2009/TTBGDĐT, which was valid for all subjects at primary level. In this document, the assessment principles were specified as follows: 3 Align assessment with standards of knowledge and skills and requirement of attitudes as indicated in the national curriculum, primary level; Combine quantitative and qualitative assessment; integrate teacher assessment and students‘ self-assessment; Implement transparent, fair, objective, accurate and comprehensive procedure; Assess and grade student achievement and student developmental progression in different skills and subskills; emphasize an encouragement for student progress without putting pressure on either students or teachers (Article 3, translated) The document also prescribes the definition and guidance on how to conduct the two main types of CA, namely continuous assessment and periodic assessment (Article 6)1. Continuous assessment is defined as the regular act of teacher focusing on student progress in everyday lesson throughout the learning process with the purpose of monitoring, encouraging or reinforcing student learning. This act simultaneously enables teachers to modify and update their teaching methods in order to achieve the educational goal. Recommended methods for continuous assessment include oral assessment, written assessment (less than 20 minutes), observation of student learning and performance in learning activities, in practice and in application of their knowledge and skills. A periodic assessment is defined as an assessment which is carried out after certain period of learning with the purpose of providing teacher, school and authorities with information about student learning in order for such stakeholders to direct or adjust the teaching process or to report the results to parents, which aim at coordinating, facilitating and supporting student learning. Regarding English subject, the document specifies in detail the minimal quantity of assessments for each type, namely, one assessment per month for continuous and two assessments annually for periodic (i.e, end of term 1 and end of year), in which the end of year assessment is the most important (Article 6). This means that only the result of the end-of year assessment is recorded in student learning profile and is reported to stakeholders. However, as English is an optional subject, the result is not counted as the grounds for ranking students. As the circular No 32/2009/TT-BGDĐT (MOET, 2009) was a general guideline for all subjects at primary education, there were no specific regulations on the contents or formats of assessment of English subject. To meet the demand, the official dispatch No 8225/2012/BGDĐT-GDTH (MOET, 2012) was signed in November 2012 to stipulate assessment procedure for the end-of-year assessment. According to the official dispatch, the end-of-year assessment aims to assess four macro skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Speaking is assessed separately in a form of interview or oral assessment, which is to be administered either on a single day for all students or on daily basis as part of a lesson with 1 4 a few students at a time throughout the academic year. Listening, reading and writing are all to be assessed in one written test in which there is a section of listening with five tasks of four items each, and another section of reading and writing with four tasks of four items. Thus, the end-of-year test consists of three sections weighting 10%, 50% and 40% for speaking, listening and reading and writing sections, respectively. The document also specifies the length of the written test and the task types for each section. It is noted that such suggested task types mimic Cambridge Tests for Young English Learners, which are unlikely to resemble the learning tasks in the current pilot primary English curriculum. Moreover, the lack of information on the content coverage as well as test specifications is inherent in the guidelines. The Official Dispatch No 3032 BGDDT–GDTH (MOET, 2013), then suplements detailed guidelines on the administration of the end-of-year (final) English test. Against this official dispatch, the written test of listening is to be administered separately with time allocation of 20 minutes, followed by the 15-minute written test of reading and writing. The speaking test is to be administered either individually or in groups at another test time (separated from the test time for the written tests). The document also provides samples of questions for the speaking test. However, no information on the content coverage as well as test specifications was provided. Regarding the learning outcomes, primary school graduates are expected to have mastered the equivalence of level A1 (CEFR) or Level 1 of the Vietnam Language Proficiency Framework for foreign languages (circular No 01/2014/TT–BGDĐT, MOET, 2014). Against the above backdrop, in Ha Noi, English is being officially taught from Grade 3 as an optional subject, 2 periods per week, and has yet been included in children‘s achievement records. On one hand, compared to other subjects at primary school, English is thus viewed from teachers‘, parents‘ and children‘s perspectives as less important and less serious (Hayes, 2008b; Moon, 2005). On the other hand, in practice, teachers still give tests periodically to children as the single means of collecting information of student progress and achievement (Moon, 2005). Rooted from the status of English as an optional subject at primary level, teachers of English, therefore, suffer from low status, low salary, which likely leads to low motivation for professional development (Grassick, 2006; Hayes, 2008a/b; Moon, 2005). Before 2005, primary English teachers were not on monthly payroll; teachers were paid an hourly rate by the school. Most primary English teachers were hired by schools on an annual 5 contract and did not have permanent status. Since 2005 MOET have distributed staff quota for the DOETs, who then continue the distribution to schools under its authorities. The quota, however, is so limited that for example one district of Hanoi is allowed to recruit only one primary teacher of English2. One consequence of this is that most English teachers are contracted, who either need to have several teaching jobs in different schools or have to teach a large number of English classrooms in the contracted school. This entails the fact that many teachers suffer from heavy workload and long hour teaching (Hayes, 2008a/b). As English has been treated as an optional subject at primary level for nearly two decades now, there has not been any specialized pre-service training3 for primary teachers from education universities and colleges. All primary teachers get their training from the university or college of education to become either lower or upper secondary school English teachers. This means that almost all English teachers in primary schools have been trained to teach and assess older learners and that they have to learn the special knowledge and skills of teaching and assessment of young learners on the job (Hayes, 2008b; Moon, 2005). b. Context of research on assessment In the context of Vietnam, there have been few studies on assessment and testing, most of which aim at testing at tertiary level. Specifically, Nguyen Phuong Nga (1997) explored the washback effects of the international English language testing system at the Vietnam National University whereas Vu Thi Phuong Anh (1997) examined authenticity and validity in language testing with a focus on reading components of IELTS and TOEFL. To Thi Thu Huong (2000) conducted a study to 202 Vietnamese AusAID scholarship awardees in order to justify the relationship between their IELTS scores as the primary requirement for Australian University admission and their academic achievement or success in their host universities in Australia. Regarding CA in Vietnamese context, up to the time of this research report, there has been merely one study carried out by Do Quang Viet (2011) attempting to investigate the patterns of task types and the focus of assessment practice in French language classrooms in Northern Vietnam at secondary level. The findings of Do Quang Viet‘s (2011) survey into testing activities in schools showed that (1) 96.6% of classroom-based testing activities focused on vocabulary and grammar (p. 236), and (2) assessment activities were heavily dependent on 2 Source: result from the primary English teacher recruitment in Hanoi in 2010 Recently DaNang University, HaNoi Education College (former Ha Noi Junior Teacher Training College), and Hue University have provided pre-service training for primary English teachers, commencing in the academic year of 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, respectively. Up to the time of this study report the first cohorts of pre-service primary teacher-students are to graduate. 3 6 mechanical memorization of knowledge with primary emphasis on recognition and reproduction (p. 244). Research on young EFL learners has been conducted with the aim to investigate if Vietnam has prepared necessary and sufficient conditions for a successful implementation of compulsory English language teaching in the primary sector. Moon (2005a/b) conducted a study into the teaching of English at primary levels in Vietnam in order to assess the needs of primary ELT nationwide, including provinces of differing geography, ethnicity and economic and social development. Moon (2005b) concluded that, ‗…The existing teachers do not have the appropriate training or, in many cases, the necessary language competence to teach primary children English effectively…Any scaling up of primary English teaching would need plenty of forward planning in order to train the huge number of teachers that would be required... There is also very little expertise available in Vietnam in the area of TEYL at present to develop the training programmes and teaching materials needed …‘ (pp.73 - 74). Although Moon (2005b) did not mention teachers‘ CA competence, it can be inferred that primary EFL teachers were not adequately trained in CA. Thus, in Vietnam, there have been a number of studies on assessment and testing and on primary English teaching practices. However, there is an obvious tendency for research on language assessment and testing to depart from young EFL learners, and vice versa, research on primary English teaching inadequately refer to assessment, especially at classroom level. Relatively little has been known about CA practices, especially when the issue is related to young language learners. Given the transitional period of the implementation of English language teaching in the primary classroom, there is a strong need for deep insights into the phenomenon of CA practices. This section has outlined the context for teaching, learning and assessing English and the context of researching CA at primary level in Hanoi, Vietnam. Although the status of English has been improved, and the 2010 pilot primary English curriculum has followed the innovative trends in curriculum development in the world, there has been a lack of a number of necessary conditions and resources for an effective implementation of English teaching, learning and assessment. In regard to research on CA practices in EFL at primary sector, there is a big gap to be filled as no prior research has tapped into this phenomenon. 4. Aims and objectives of the study The overarching aim is to uncover CA practices and the extent to which such factors as teachers‘ beliefs and working context influence those practices. It is believed that the insights help inform teacher training and teacher professional development. 7 The objectives of this study, therefore, are to (1) explore how CA was practised by primary EFL teachers in three primary schools in Hanoi, (2) examine teachers‘ beliefs underlying their CA practices, and (3) gain understanding of contextual factors influencing teachers‘ CA practices. 5. Research questions Overarching research question: How and why do the teachers practise classroom assessment the way they do? Research questions: 1. How is classroom assessment practised by the EFL teachers in three primary schools? 2. To what extent are the teachers‟ classroom assessment practices shaped by their beliefs? 3. How are their classroom assessment practices influenced by their actual contexts of teaching? 6. Scope of the study This explorative and interpretive study investigates how eight EFL teachers in the three primary schools in Hanoi practise CA in their eleven classroom settings and how these practices are influenced by their beliefs and working contexts. Although traditional research in the field of assessment quantitatively examine the validity and reliability of external high stakes tests and examinations, this study, by contrast, confines itself to the investigation of teacher assessment practices inside their classrooms and the factors underlying these practices from sociocultural constructivist perspectives. CA in this study, therefore, is restricted within the objectives of the current Primary English curriculum (2010) and is qualitatively examined in an alignment with the curriculum. The impact of the EFL CA practices is reflected in both teachers‘ teaching quality and in student progress and achievement. However, the study placed more emphasis on the part of teacher than on students since the ultimate goal of the study is for teacher training and teacher professional development. Student participants, therefore, were not fully explored. Only two students in each classroom were accessed for tracking their individual progress and achievement in English as a reflection of teacher assessment practices in the classroom. Justification for the choice of the selected student participants is going to be discussed in 2.3. CA practices involve a number of factors, including (1) teacher‘s individual beliefs toward learning, language teaching and assessment, (2) local school context and administration, and 8 (3) wider external forces like existing societal teaching, learning and assessment culture, reform climate, and the impact of relevant government or quasi-governmental agencies‘ policies (Carless, 2005, p. 51). This study limits its focus on teachers‘ beliefs, school regulations on EFL teaching and assessment, and assessment policies which have been promulgated. School administration, existing societal teaching, learning and assessment culture, reform climate, impact of relevant government or quasi-governmental agencies‘ policies were discussed only when necessary. Given the inter-relationship between teaching, learning and assessment, this study, employing a theoretical framework from sociocultural constructivist perspectives, examined CA purposes, approaches, procedures, agents and assessment strategies. In order to uncover the CA practices conducted by the teachers throughout the whole academic year, the study employed qualitative approach with collective case study as research design. Thus, the main methods included interview, observation, document analysis and artefacts. However, other instruments such as questionnaire and checklist were also employed for the convenience of collecting, displaying and managing data. 7. Structure of the study The research consists of three parts. Part I is the research introduction, which briefly presents the rationale, aims, purposes and scope of the study. Part II consists of three chapters. Chapter One (Literature review) reviews the relevant literature on the components of CA, which serve as the theoretical framework for the study on teachers‘ beliefs and contextual factors underlying the CA practices. This chapter also reviews a large body of previous studies on CA practices and teachers‘ beliefs. Chapter Two (Research methodology) provides a description of the case study research design as well as an explanation of the steps involved in the data collection, data analysis and data display, followed by measures against the threat to validity and reliability. Chapter Three (Findings and Discussions) presents the findings and discussion of the findings in response to the research questions. The thesis ends with the Conclusion, which provides a summary of the major findings of the research, recommendations on practices of CA and suggestions for further studies. 9
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