It is known that every task is done for taking a result at the end of a process. Undoubtedly, a well-done task doesn’t remain without being stimulated.
The disposition of the taskshows how well it has done and how much valuable it is. Since there are variable ways of encouragement like giving oral or written feedbacks, praises and assessment, however, all of them can be chosen as a sample for stimulation. Among these three types of disposition, assessing a task is widely used especially in secondary schools. There can be a question “Why is exactly assessment widely utilized at schools while there are other different ways? Before replying the question, we should completely know what assessment is and why it is important for a learner`s study.
As it is mentioned above, assessmentis the wide variety of methods or tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or educational needs of students and it is a well-known strategy among teachers. However sometimes it is understood wrongly because considered the same with test. Yes, test also estimates students` performance but it doesn’t mean the whole assessment due to be a part of assessing.it helps a bit to measure students` attribute but not completely. It can be cheated during testing therefore it is not so authentic that can fully estimate. As not being so reliable version of test, it shouldn’t be utilized as the only way of assessing during classes. As raising the pupils` self-confidence for themselves and their knowledgeis one of the best sides of assessing them concerning how well they done the tasks. However, it is not such a right thought that assessment is a stimulation of pupils` knowledge while it is a daily process that is to say it is an assessment for pupils for their daily acquisition not whole knowledge. Such kind of wrong ideas effect pupils` learning and cause to discourage them since they may think themselves as illiterate learners. Therefore, correct comprehension of assessing encourage pupils` acquisition whereas they tend to be discouraged.
In secondary schools, teachers should assess pupils according to variable ways of doing tasks in order to widen their learning space and raising motivation. It is considered that there are two main forms of assessment as typical and alternative assessment. Typical assessment is an ordinary way of stimulation which is provided by teachers. In this type of assessment is a ready source of tasks which make pupils be limited. It limits them with narrow questions, standard tests, timed and multiple-choice questions. Pupils cannot feel themselves free because of being so narrow, planned and limited situations. Unfortunately, most teachers in secondary schools are covered by this kind of assessment. They are causing the pupils to be members of prepared material and give reproductive information instead of searching themselves. As a result it is a cause of decreasing their knowledge level while they can do more than they show. These disadvantages of typical assessment have caused to be considered as a less useful strategy and coming of a new and more beneficial form as alternative assessment.
Alternative assessment estimates performance of pupils in different forms instead of only assessing by written home tasks on notebooks. It is an objectively form of stimulating that doesn’t remain any doubt for pupils to know how well they attend lessons. It gives a chance even for pupils to assess each other or themselves depending on their participation. With such kind of new and truthful sides this type of assessment has become a widely-used form in assessing.
Furthermore, it helps pupils to show what they really do and are capable for. It doesn’t demarcate them with traditional paper and pencil or short answer tests like typical assessment do. In this type of stimulation, pupils feel free and can be able to show how much they learn because of it is not graded like standard tests are.
As Jennifer Job said (2003) alternative assessment is also profitable to show an original state of a pupil instead of counting only his/her wrong or right answers in tests. It clearly defines the weak sides or abilities of pupils and highlights where improvements and corrections need. Indeed, this form of assessing gives an opportunity for pupils to prove their acquisition which has been learned by teachers during lessons freely without any limits.
While making alternatives, it will be easy for both teachers and pupils to clarify which disabilities pupils have and what kind of recommendation teachers should give for pupils to overcome the difficulties which can be during performances. It is the most important side of alternative assessment, because without being aware of weaknesses or abilities it will be challenging to achieve intended aim that is to say it will be difficult for teachers to explain and for pupils to understand what is being explained. Therefore, becoming aware of such kind of sides increases the extent of both teaching and learning.
It is known that there are lots of types of alternative assessment which can be beneficial if it is utilized during classes:
This type of alternative is the most popular and mostly used as replacements for end of course. It is a collection of pupils` works which has done during terms. Depending on the portfolios, teachers can assess the participation of pupils. It demonstrates pupils` progress, efforts and achievements in given tasks, so it is more convenient for teachers to assess fairly and for pupils to prove what they have done during terms.
According to Genesee and Upshur (1996) portfolios include such kind of materials like reports, projects, poetry and creative prose, audio or video recordings, self and peer assessments, comments, evaluations and so on. Gottlieb (1995, 2000) suggested an acronym to explain clearly what portfolio is.
Collecting, Reflecting, Assessing, Documenting, Linking, Evaluating
It is known that some learners may have difficulties to perform their knowledge in oral way. In these situationsessays are the most profitable way for pupils to show their knowledge and skills in written way. It is possible to demonstrate skills and learning in not only oral way but also written one with essays.
These activities help teachers to observe how they can explain and how their pupils acquire. This type of alternative can be chosen concerning to professions. For instance, an English teacher can give a presentation on variable topics relating to the language with Posters. PPTs and other demonstrations. A math teacher gives a presentation belonging to the subject like making schemes, graphics and so on.It can be said that a presentation is a comfortable style to prove abilities orally.
As it is mentioned above, alternative assessment is used to define what students can do or cannot in contrast to what they do or do not know. In other words, it measures applied proficiency more than it counts knowledge. Pupils will have a chance to receive feedback by an experienced person that is to say a teacher in defensible criteria apart from demonstrating knowledge and performing meaningful tasks and they will be able to corrects their mistakes and reach improvements.
However, as Professor Dancelot said (YouTube)there are five guidelines for constructing alternative assessment in classes:
- Teachers should pay attention to both sides like being meaningful of a performance and skillful of a performer and then they can assess as much clearly as possible.
- They should distinguish what kind of improvements are necessary for pupils in order to simplify to overcome challenges for them.
- It is useful to give enough time for pupils to show what they know and can do. Giving enough time is a way of encouragement not to limit them and let them feel free and can demonstrate what they are capable of
- Teachers should decide appropriate guidance while keeping freedom for pupils to learn and do performances by themselves. However, teachers can write some notes for pupils to remember if they need
- Finally, it is time to assess and teachers should assess pupils with informing them about their achievements and weaknesses during performance since it helps to give motivation and encouragement for them
It can be summarized that alternative assessment is more beneficial than typical assessment. It lets pupils feel free and it causes them to demonstrate their abilities to master. Also this kind of assessment is different with its authenticity which is believable for both teachers and learners. It is certain that it will be useful and more effective if teachers use this type of assessment in secondary schools for assessing learners` performance in EFL.