How to use oracy as a tool for formative assessment

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Tjetland, Kine
Kjebekk, Anne
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Educational Level
ISCED Level 2 Lower secondary education
Geographical Setting
Background: The study was conducted in a Year 9 English as a Foreign Language (EFL) class with 30 students aged 14-15, some of whom found it difficult to sustain conversations and also are overly dependent on teacher assessment of their competences.

Aims: The aim of the study was to explore how students, through improved oracy skills, can become more aware of their own competence and know how to improve it?

Methods: The researchers conducted three lessons to achieve this aim. The first lesson involved term relay and oral discussions about different claims related to a case in social studies. The second lesson focused on oral discussions about different claims connected to various assessment criteria. The third lesson included orientation exercises with practical tasks that promoted oral discussions. The researchers selected three focus pupils with different levels of oral skills: one with excellent skills, one with fairly good skills, and one with poor skills. The researchers observed the focus pupils during the lessons and collected data through interviews and questionnaires.

Findings: The researchers found that students who were already aware of their own role in oral discussions benefited more from the lessons compared to other students. The study also highlighted the importance of teacher guidance and feedback in helping students become aware of their own competence. The maturity of the students was found to have a significant impact on their awareness of their competence. Safety, both for individuals and the group, was identified as crucial for effective discussions. Practical tasks, especially those involving movement, increased student participation.

Implications: The study suggests that teachers may overestimate students' competence and should adjust their ambitions to match students' levels. Teachers should also use vocabulary that is easily understandable to students. It also suggests actively making students aware of their role in oral discussions through modelling and providing examples of how to maintain conversations. The researchers propose allocating time for self-assessment and using feedback to promote further competence. Overall, the study provides insights into using oracy as a tool for formative assessment and offers practical implications for teachers working with oracy and formative assessment.
Keywords (free text)
oracy , discussion , secondary education , self-assessment , formative assessment
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