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23-11 Self evaluation in the English Classroom

1.      Introduction

During the last 10 years there has been a surge of interest in self-assessment methodologies in foreign/second language education.  Work has been undertaken in many parts of the world and several reports on the theoretical and practical implications of using self-assessment techniques have emerged. 

2.      Why use self-assessment?

Interest in self-assessment developed out of a more general interest in the area of autonomous learning or learner independence. However, it has been seen as one of the more problematic areas of self-directed learning.  It is widely recognized that learners might not have the necessary experience to make judgements of this sort.  Despite these criticisms, there are a number of reasons why self-assessment should be encouraged in language classes. 

Mats Oscarsson (1989), a noted scholar in the field of self-assessment, gives six different reasons why self-assessment can be beneficial to language learning. First, he stresses that self-assessment promotes learning, plain and simple.  It gives learners training in evaluation which results in benefits to the learning process.  Secondly, it gives both students and teachers a raised level of awareness of perceived levels of abilities.  Training in self-assessment, even in its simplest form, like asking “What have I been learning?” encourages learners to look at course content in a more discerning way.  Thirdly, it is highly motivating in terms of goal-orientation.  Fourth, through the use of self-assessment methodologies, the range of assessment techniques is expanded in the classroom.  As a result of using self-assessment, the learner broadens’ his/her range of experience within the realm of assessment.  Fifth, by practicing self-assessment, the students participate in their own evaluation (Dickinson 1987).  They, in effect, share the assessment burden with the teacher.  Finally, by successfully involving students in their own assessment, beneficial post-course effects will ensue.

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