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Peer assessment of oral presentation in an EFL context

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Jui-ching Fion Peng
Abstract:
Due to the growing focus on learner independence, peer assessment has received a lion's share of attention in recent years. Nevertheless, this idea is novel to most English language teachers and students in Taiwan where traditional assessment is still dominant. This study investigated college students' attitudes towards and possible language proficiency differences in peer assessment in an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context. Comparisons of correlations between teacher and peer grading were made. The benefits and weaknesses of peer assessment, as well as the teacher's perceptions to this assessment method were examined within the context of oral presentation, since relatively few studies had examined this facet. Eighty-eight college EFL learners and one teacher participated in the study. At the beginning of the semester, the students were provided some training on peer assessment. They had opportunities to discuss assessment criteria with the teacher and practice evaluating their peers before the peer assessment activities. A five-point Likert scale survey was administered before and after the implementation of peer assessment. Other instruments included open-ended questionnaires, written reflections, peer evaluation and feedback forms, within-group peer assessment forms, emails and interviews. In terms of attitudes, the results of the pre- and post-surveys suggested that both high- and low-intermediate students reacted positively to peer assessment. Their attitudes became significantly more positive after experiencing peer assessment. With respect to grading, the high-intermediate students' scores did not have stronger agreement with the teacher's than the low-intermediate students' scores. In fact, the low-intermediate students' grading had, on average, a closer similarity with the teacher's. The reported benefits and weaknesses were organized and discussed according to the coding scheme. The teacher also had favorable perceptions of peer assessment. She would incorporate this assessment method into her future classes especially in group work. Yet, she had some reservations about extensively integrating peer assessment into English curricula owing to the issues of time and class size. This study concludes that, with careful planning and training, peer assessment is a viable alternative assessment in higher education. The research also provides teachers with pedagogical implications for using peer assessment in EFL classrooms.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract……………………………………………………………………………

vii

Table of Contents…………………………………………………………………

ix

List of Tables……………………………………………………………………...

xiii

List of Figures……………………………………………………………………..

xi v

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION……………………………………………

1

Background of the study……………………………………………………

1

Assessment ……………………………………………………………..

1

Issues and Values of Assessment ……………………………………….

2

Problem Statement…………………………………………………………..

3

Educational Con text in Taiwan…………………………………………

3

The Researcher’s Experiences ………………………………………….

5

S ignificance

of

Peer Assessment …………………………………………….

7

Purpose of the Study …………………………………………………………

8

Research Questions……………………………………………………...

9

Significance of the Stud y…………………………………………………….

10

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW…………………………………….

1 1

Alternative Assessments in ESL/EFL ………………………………………..

1 1

Theoretical Framework

of Peer Assessment …………………………………

1 3

The Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding …………………...

1 3

Attitudes of Students…………………………………………………………

1 7

Peer Assessment in Higher Education ………………………………………..

1 8

Definitions of Peer Assessment ………………………………………….

1 8

Types of Peer Assessment……………………………………………….

1 9

Two Major Studies on Peer Assessment………………………………..

20

Topping’s Review………………………………………………….

20

Falchikov and Goldfinch’s Study…………………………………..

2 2

Comparisons of Two Major Studies…………………………………….

25

Validity and Reliability…………………………………………………

2 6

Studies on Peer Assessment in the First Language Context…………….

2 8

Studies on Peer Assessment in the Second Language Context…………

31

Benefits and We aknesses……………………………………………….

37

Challenges………………………………………………………………

41

Theme 1: Assessment is teachers’ responsibility…………………

42

Solution 1.…………………………………………………………

42

Theme 2: Over -

and under - marking/favoritism and prejudice……

42

Solution 2………………………………………………………….

4 3

Theme 3: Lack of experience or knowledge……………………...

4 3

Solution 3………………………………………………………….

4 4

The Current Trend: Online/Computer Assisted Peer

Assessment… ……

45

x

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY…………………………………………

4 7

Approach……………………………………………………………………..

4 7

Research Setting……………………………………………………………...

Educational Context and Culture in Taiwan…………………………….. 48

48

Oral English Curriculum and Assessment in Taiwan ……………………

50

The University…………………………………………………………...

52

Participants………………………………………………………...……

52

Students……………………………………………………………..

52

Teacher……………………………………………………………...

5 4

The Roles of the Researcher………………………………..…...………

5 4

Instruments…………………………………………………………………..

5 5

Five - point Likert Scale Survey…………………………………………..

5 5

Open - ended Questionnaire………………………………………………

5 6

Semi - structured Interview……………………………………………….

5 6

Peer Evaluation and Feedback Form…………………………………….

5 7

Written Reflection……………………………………………………….

5 7

Within - group Peer Assessment Form……………………………………

5 8

Email Correspondence…………………………………………………..

5 8

Document and Records Review ………………………………………...

5 8

Procedures……………………………………………………………………

5 9

Types of Peer Assessment……………………………………………….

59

T ypology………………………………………………………………...

60

Phases fo r Implementing the Peer Assessment…………………………

61

Training Materials………………………………………………………

6 4

Peer Assessment Training and Activities……………………………….

6 5

Data collection………………………………………………………………..

6 6

Data analysis………………………………………………………………….

6 9

Quantitative Analysis Procedures………………………………………..

6 9

Coding Scheme…………………………………………………………..

6 9

Qualitative Analysis Procedures…………………………………………

72

Preparing and Organizing the Data………………………………...

72

Reviewing and Exploring the Data…………………………………

72

Coding Data into Categories……………………………………….

72

Constructing Descriptions

of People, Places, and A ctivities ………

73

Building Themes and Testing Hypotheses…………………………

73

Reporting and Interpreting Data……………………………………

73

T rustworthiness ………………………………………………………………

73

CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION…………………………….

7 6

Research Question One………………………………………………………

Sub-question One………………………………………………………..

Students’ Attitudes towards Peer Assessment …………………………...

76

77 7 8

High - interme diate Students…………………………………………

80

Low - intermed iate Students………………………………………….

8 5

Sub - question Two………………………………………………………..

8 8

xi

Students’ Attitudes prior to the Peer Assessment E xercises …………

8 9

Students’ A ttitudes after the Peer Assessment E xercises ……………

8 9

Research Question Two………………………………………………………

92

Sub - question One………………………………………………………..

Language Proficiency Differences in terms of Attitudes……………. Language Proficiency Differences in the Within-group Peer

A ssessments …………………………………………………………..

92

92

93

Sub - question Two………………………………………………………..

Correlations between the Teacher and Peer Assessments…………… 93

94

Research Question Three……………………………………………………..

Benefits…………………………………………………………………..

95

9 6

Focusing on the Process rather than the Outcomes……………..........

102

Making the Classes More Interesting………………………………...

103

Avoiding Free - riders and D istinguish ing Individual C ontributions …

104

Reflection and Improvement……………………………………….

106

Responsibility and Autonomy.......…………………………………...

10 8

Interaction and C ollaboration ...………………………………………

1 10

Enhancing M otivation

and Participation………….......……………...

1 12

Weaknesses and Concerns……………………………………………….

1 13

Friendship E ffects

and Over - marking………………………………..

11 7

C ausi ng a lot of T rouble ……………………………………………...

11 9

Having Different Interpretations about G rades ………………………

1 20

Time Issues…………………………………………………………...

1 21

Miscellaneous………………………………………………………...

1 23

Research Question Four……………………………………………………...

Sub-question One………………………………………………………..

Teacher’s Attitudes towards Peer Assessment ……………………….

123

123 1 23

Time Issues…………………………………………………………...

1 24

Increase of Participation and Motivation….......……………………..

1 25

Individual Contributions….......………………………………………

1 25

Language Proficiency versus Learning Attitudes……….……………

1 25

Friendship Effects…………………………………………………….

1 27

Generation Gap……………………………………………………….

1 27

Interaction…………………………………………………………….

12 8

Future Uses………………………………………………………….. . .

Comparisons between Previous and the Current Research…………………... Scaffolding in the Peer Assessments……………………………………….…

The Researcher’s Views………………………………………………… ……

128

130 133 135

Summary of the Findings…………………………………………………… .

136

CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSIONS……………………………………………...

144

Summary of the S tudy ………………………………………………………..

144

C hallenges and S olutions …………………………………………………….

146

Pedagogical I mplication s……………………………………………………..

147

L imitations ……………………………………………………………………

155

xii

Suggestions for Future S tudies ……………………………………………….

155

C onclusions …………………………………………………………………..

156

Closing Remarks……………………………………………………………..

158

REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………….

160

APPENDICES……………………………………………………………………..

167

Appendix A Pre -

and Post - survey …………………………………………….

167

Appendix B Open - ended Questionnaire ……………………………………...

171

Appendix C Written Reflection ………………………………………………

172

Appendix D Semi - structured Interview Question s…………………………...

173

Appendix E Peer Evaluation and Feedback Form ……………………………

178

Appendix F Within - group Peer Assessment Form …………………………...

181

Appendix G Training Materials for Peer Assessment …………………… …...

182

Appendix H Training Materials for Oral Presentation ………………………..

186

Appendix I Themes…………………………………………………………...

188

CURRICULUM VITA E

xiii

LIST OF TABLES Table 1 A Summary of the Benefits of Peer Assessment ………………………...

37

Table 2 A Summary of the Weaknesse s of Peer Assessment …………………….

38

Table 3 The Organization of the Participants ……….……………………………

53

Table 4 Typology of the Peer Assessment s

in the Present Study ………………...

60

Table 5 Phases and Procedures for

Implementing the Peer Assessment s………..

62

Table 6 Timeline of Data Collection Procedures ………………………………...

6 8

Table 7 Descriptions of Benefit and Weakness Categories………………………

70

Table 8 Descriptive I nformation and Scale - s core D ifferences between the High -

and Low-Intermediate Students………………………………………….

78

Table 9 The Paired t values of I ndividual I tems for

the High -

and Low -

Intermediate Students’ Responses……………………………………….

79

Table 10 Pre -

and Post - survey Results of the High - intermediate Students ………

81

Table 11 Pre -

and Post - survey Results of the Low - intermediate Students ………

84

Table 12 A Summary of the S tudents’ Attitudes before the Peer Assessments….

89

Table 13 Results of the Within - group Peer Assessments………………………...

92

Table 14 Comparisons between the Peer Assessments and Within - group Peer

Assessments…………………………………………………………….

92

Table 15 Correlations between the Teacher and Peer Assessments……………...

94

Table 16 Benefits of Peer Assessment R eported by the Students ………………..

9 6

Table 17 Weaknesses and Concerns

of Peer Assessment Reported by the

Students………………………………………………………………..

113

Table 18 An Example of Grading Scale………………………………………….

147

xiv

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Types of the Peer Assessments…………………………………………

59

Figure 2 The Outline of the Peer Assessment s…………………………………...

60

Figure 3 A Cyclic Scheme for Peer Assessment …………………………………

62

Figure 4 Implementation Process Scheme

for Peer Assessment…………………

150

1

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Background of the Study Assessment Before discussing the concepts of peer assessment, a word about assessment in general is in order. Assessment plays an important role in education for it indicates and can help determine learning success. Traditionally, teachers have been the decision and judgment makers in the process of assessment, deciding what and how students will be assessed and what criteria and standards will be used; however, this phenomenon is changing especially in adult learning. More and more people recognize the importance of assessment partnership for adult learners (Leach, Neutze & Zepke, 2001). Ellington, Earl and Cowan (1997) and Dochy, Segers and Sluijsmans (1999) echoed that, in recent years, the pattern of assessment has dramatically changed. In the past, responsibilities of assessing students fall onto the shoulders of teachers; nowadays assessment is more student-centered and continuous. The idea of involving students in the assessment process has become increasingly accepted, manifesting itself via peer, self and collaborative assessment methods. Huba and Freed (2000) indicated that since the mid-1980s, in higher education, many eminent researchers as well as theorists advocated focusing on learning rather than teaching. Dochy (2001) particularly emphasized the idea of using assessment as a learning tool. Assessment takes a crucial role in switching from the teacher-centered paradigm to learner-centered one because in the process of assessing students, teachers

2

not only monitor learning but also improve it. In line with this reasoning, Huba and Freed (2000, p. 8) defined assessment as: The process of gathering and discussing information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand, and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences; the process when assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning. Orsmond and Merry (1996) stated that changes in assessment are necessary for encouraging students to be more self-dependent in their own development. To achieve that goal, student empowerment is needed. There are various ways to empower students including peer assessment, self assessment and collaborative assessment. Somervell (1993) indicated that those assessments bring a closer relationship among teachers and students as well as help students develop useful skills in academic and professional areas. Shohamy (1992) advocated linking up testing and learning in language classrooms and suggested three directions: 1) integration of assessment and teaching; 2) student involvement in the assessment process; 3) use of multiple assessment sources (p.11). First, she supported an interactive relationship between teaching and assessment; more specifically, the results of assessment can be used as information to improve teaching. Second, she suggested that teachers and students should cooperate together in planning and analyzing assessment process and results. Third, she argued that there are diverse ways to obtain language samples and behaviors including portfolios, self assessment, simulations, observations, peer assessment and so on. Issues and Values of Assessment

3

Shohamy (2001) stated that “tests can create winners and losers, successes and failures, the rejected and accepted” (p. 374). The importance of tests or assessments manifests from this quote. They have great impacts on not only individuals but educational systems. They are powerful tools in both everyday life and educational environment. Shohamy further pointed out that, notwithstanding, tests or assessments are not democratic because examinees have no chance to participate in the process of constructing tests and making decisions. What makes it worse is that examinees are forced to change their behaviors for the purpose of fulfilling the requirement of tests or assessments. In a similar vein, Johnston (2003, p.77) discussed two paradoxes in assessment, i.e. test subjectivity and “the paradox of the necessary evil.” A lot of decisions have to be made in the process of constructing a test, for example, what and how to assess, and what criteria for interpreting results and so forth. These aspects of assessment are all value- laden thus involving human judgments. Values and judgments are subjective in nature. When teachers place a value on students, it becomes a moral act. Broadfoot (2005) echoed that each phase of assessment is permeated with values. Human intervention is all about values. Granted that tests or assessments are unwanted by teachers and students, but some sorts of assessment are still needed in order to know the following information: learning progress, the relations between students’ work and expectations, and even ranking among students. For ethical reasons, evaluation is unwanted; nevertheless, at the same time, for the ethical reasons again, “it is a necessary evil” (Johnston, 2003, p. 77). Problem Statement Educational Context in Taiwan

4

As an international language, English is used on a daily basis by the millions the world over. Its importance cannot be underestimated. In order to compete globally, the Taiwanese government strives for enhancing citizens’ English ability. This is seen in the inclusion of mandatory English instruction starting from the 3 rd grade as well as tests in high school and university admission examinations. Schools of all levels in Taiwan lay special emphasis on the study of the English language. This is supposed to be a good thing, a chance to develop English learners’ capacity. However, for entering a university, middle school students, with help from their teachers, work hard to get good scores in the University Entrance Examination, a succession of grueling tests about academic competence. For teachers and students alike, the pressure of doing well in the Examination is enormous. As a result of the examination system and the amount of pressure that comes with it, the nature of Taiwan’s secondary education has changed from being enlightenment-oriented to examination-oriented. In their scramble for university admission, teachers and students seem to have lost sight of the true meaning of education. Under the examination system, the objective of Taiwan’s secondary education is virtually about preparing students for the University Entrance Examination. Enlightenment has taken a back seat. This situation is no better in higher education where universities also put emphasis on measuring learning achievement and knowledge through tests, i.e. multiple- choice, essays, short-answer tests and the like. Other assessment methods such as portfolios, interviews, conferences and journals are not widely used in language classrooms. Some colleges demand students to pass GEPT 1

1 In 1999, the Taiwanese Government commissioned the Language Training and Testing Center in Taipei to develop the GEPT. GEPT offers five levels of testing that include elementary, intermediate, high- (General English Proficiency

5

Test), TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for certain level upon graduation which leads tests even more predominant. Besides this problem, students’ grades are usually determined solely by judgment of teachers; peer, self or collaborative assessment is novel ideas to most teachers. In this case, the assessment culture is quite narrow in the sense that teachers do not collect diverse sources of learning samples as some researchers (Huba & Freed, 2000; Shohamy, 1992) recommended and students have no say regarding their assessments. The Researcher’s Experiences I experienced first-hand in such a test-oriented educational system. As a middle school student, I never had time reflecting on what I had learned because learning was always about tediously consecutive tests. I used to have, on average, 4 different tests every day. My learning achievement was measured totally by how well I did on tests; thus, to me, English learning was about rote memorization of vocabulary, translation and grammar points. My learning behaviors were shaped by tests as Shohamy (2001) indicated. After I entered college, I encountered other assessment approaches such as oral presentations, interviews, group projects, role plays, debates and so forth which broadened my horizons. Those assessment methods increased my learning incentive for I had more channels to show what I had learned. Yet, a majority of the times, tests were still the main form of evaluation. Oftentimes I wished my teachers would have given me a chance to make suggestions or have a say in assessments. This wish never came true. When I became a college instructor, in 2000, I remembered my wish and involved my students in the assessment process by discussing assessment criteria and percentages

intermediate, advanced, and superior. Test takers are to select a testing level according to their English ability. GEPT puts all four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing to the test.

6

of each assignment or project with them in the first class. At first, students did not know what to do or say because this was a new maybe even a strange idea. To them, deciding how they were assessed was teachers’ job. It turned out that most students have no opinions or simply asked me to decide. Consequently, my first attempt of involving students in the assessment process was a failure. Learning from this experience, I took little steps the following semesters. Inspiring by the idea of fast-food combo meal, in my Listening & Speaking class, I prepared 3 options with different percentages of assignments as below: Option A

Commercial presentation (20%) Listening test (20%) Oral test (20%) Role playing (20%) Participation (20%)

Option B

Commercial presentation (25%) Listening test (25%) Oral test (25%) Role playing (10%) Participation (15%)

Option C

Commercial presentation (30%) Listening test (25%) Oral test (25%) Role playing (10%) Participation (10%)

The option was decided by vote. Then we negotiated the assessment criteria for some major assignments; for instance, criteria such as creativity, evidence of rehearsal and pronunciation might be included in the commercial presentation. Students, with some encouragement and scaffolding, were more willing to express their views and make decisions for themselves. At the end of the semester, in the course evaluation forms, most students showed positive attitudes about making their own assessment decisions. This ‘experiment’ intrigued me to explore the topic of student involvement in the assessment process. In 2004, I came to Bloomington for pursuing the doctoral degree. As a graduate student, I had a number of experiences with peer assessment in that the results were mixed. Most peer assessments I had were related to writing. For example, in one class,

7

we did the process writing that required peer reviewing in finishing the final paper. Most suggestions from peers were constructive whereas few were hastily done critique lacking any real substance. Some professors asked us to comment on peers’ oral presentations in written or oral forms. Overall, peers’ comments were helpful and I learned a lot from my colleagues. In the CALL (Computer-assisted Language Learning) class, we actually assigned grades to our group members in a WebQuest 2 Due to the growing focus on learner independence and autonomy, peer assessment has received a lion’s share of attention in recent years. In a situation where learners are able to assess their own quality and level of performance and those of their peers, it is very likely that they will be capable of understanding the assessment criteria (Patri, 2002). Brown (2004) said that both self and peer assessment give the merits of involving students on their own destiny, encouraging autonomy, and increasing project so that the individual contributions were distinguished. This peer evaluation experience particularly impressed me for its fairness in a group project. In light of these experiences, I seemed to find the answers for the questions that I had been pondering over since I became a teacher: How can I as a teacher break the assessment routine, i.e. traditional assessment? And, what are some possible alternatives for assessment? My experience tells me that peer assessment could be a good option for student involvement; yet I have no idea how students feel about this assessment method. This prompts me to conduct this study in order to ensure successful implementation since we know little about peer assessment in the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context. Significance of Peer Assessment

2 We designed a website for the target students where they collected and worked with information via the web. A WebQuest is an inquiry-based lesson which challenges students to explore various web links and accomplish their tasks.

8

motivation (p. 270). Cheng and Warren (2005) maintained that involvement in and control over the methods, procedures, and outcomes of assessment as well as understanding the underlying rationale are crucial for both teachers and students. Peer assessment is one of the alternatives that has significant pedagogical value because it enables learners to take part in the evaluation process and gives learners opportunities to participate in and evaluate their peers’ learning process and products. Purpose of the Study Although literature on peer assessment is expanding, little is known in the field of peer assessment in the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context. A number of peer assessment studies were undertaken in Taiwan; nevertheless, few examined this assessment form from the perspective of English language learners. The present study intends to add to the peer assessment literature regarding college English learners assessing oral presentations of their peers. Oral English proficiency has drawn a lot of attention lately in Taiwan. The inclusion of speaking in the iBT (Internet based) TOEFL in 2005 and the 2000 launch of GEPT, which includes listening and speaking sections, have created a backwash effect which in turn has motivated English learners and teachers to improve both listening and oral skills. In addition, international trade in Taiwan has had an indirect influence on English language education. Increasingly, Taiwanese companies are requiring their prospective employees to obtain a certain level of English proficiency, with an emphasis on speaking and listening. Since most participants in this study have business-related majors, it is beneficial to develop their oral presentation skills because when they enter the business world they will encounter many situations where these skills are invaluable. This view is supported by Hughes and Large (1993) and Hill

9

and Storey (2003) who pointed out the importance of increasing students’ oral presentation skills to prepare them for their future careers. Cheng and Warren (2005) reported that students felt neither comfortable nor confident evaluating their peers due to their own perceptions of inability despite the fact that most of them scored approximately 500 on the TOEFL. It would be interesting to find out the most appropriate language proficiency level for implementing peer assessment in EFL classrooms. In this study, however, I start with investigating whether or not there are language proficiency differences in peer assessment and students’ attitudes. Research Questions This study plans to answer the following questions and sub-questions: 1. What are college EFL learners’ attitudes towards peer assessment? 1a) Do students change their perceptions after experiencing this assessment method in the context of oral presentation? 1b) What are the reasons for changing attitudes and, in what direction (positive or negative)? 2. Are there any language proficiency differences in peer assessment? 2a) Do high-intermediate students have more positive attitudes towards peer assessment compared to low-intermediate ones? 2b) Are peer assessments done by high-intermediate students more similar to the teacher assessments than low-intermediate ones? 3. What are the perceived benefits and weaknesses reported by college EFL learners and the teacher after experiencing peer assessment?

10

4. What is the teacher’s attitude towards peer assessment? 4a) Does the teacher change her attitude after implementing peer assessment? If yes, why? Significance of the Study This study aims to broaden the knowledge of peer assessment by exploring attitudes and possible language proficiency differences in higher education. It focuses on oral presentation since relatively few studies were devoted to examining this facet, not to mention in an EFL context. It attempts to promote the idea of involving students in the assessment process and encourages educators to collect multiple sources of language samples by using methods such as peer assessment. According to the literature, peer assessment seems to be a viable option to enhance independent and autonomous learning; the research also intends to provide EFL teachers with a promising alternative assessment method at the tertiary level. It proposes using peer assessment as a way to raise more open assessment culture and empower college students by assessment involvement.

11

CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter is devoted to reviewing relevant literature to the study. It is organized as follows: 1) alternative assessment in ESL (English as a Second Language)/EFL; 2) theoretical framework of peer assessment; 3) attitudes of students; 4) peer assessment in higher education. Alternative Assessments in ESL/EFL According to O’Malley and Valdez Pierce (1996), “[a]lternative assessment consists of any method of finding out what a student knows or can do that is intended to show growth and inform instruction”; it is “by definition criterion-referenced and is typically authentic because it is based on activities that represent classroom and real-life settings” (p. 1-2). Brown and Hudson (1998) gave examples of alternative assessment as portfolios, conferences, diaries, self assessment and peer assessment. Among those assessment forms, peer assessment is the most well-liked method to involve students in assessment (Falchikov, 2005). Due to the four controversial issues surrounding traditional assessments such as true-false, matching and multiple-choice tests, Johnston (2003) supported using alternative assessments from the standpoint of morality. First, traditional assessments test the wrong type of knowledge, namely, rote memorization and facts instead of a holistic understanding. Second, traditional assessments are usually designed for administrative purposes rather than meeting the interests of students. Third, because of the high level of stress, they reduce students’ motivation. Finally, instead of assessing what students can do with their knowledge, traditional assessments test what students do not know. Owing

12

to these reasons, a growing number of educators have realized the importance of alternative assessments. In a similar vein, Damico and Hamayan (1991) spoke in favor of alternative assessments as they are more suitable for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students. They encouraged educators to be the advocates of alternative assessments for the interest of LEP students. They did not agree with the label, LEP, and stated that the term emphasizes the negative facet of students’ English proficiency rather than focusing on their existing native language ability. Hamayan (1995) pointed out that the purpose of alternative assessments is not only to evaluate learning but also to evaluate teaching. She also specified some characteristics of alternative assessments. They are 1) “Proximity to actual language use and performance”: O’Malley and Valdez Pierce (1996) called them authentic assessments because they are usually based on classroom activities or take place in a real life context. 2) “A holistic view of language”: Through alternative assessments, language can be evaluated in an integrated way in terms of the four skills and students’ “social, academic, and physical situation”. 3) “An integrative view of learning”: Alternative assessments allow teachers to assess learning from different dimensions. 4) “Developmental appropriateness”: Owing to the fact that alternative assessments have the potential to meet students’ needs, teachers can get more information about individual students’ life and experiences. 5) “Multiple referencing”: They allow teachers to collect diverse sources of learning (p. 213-215). Brown and Hudson (1998) combined three papers, i.e. Aschbacher, 1991; Herman, Aschbacher, and Winters, 1992; Huerta-Macias, 1995 and further discussed the unique characteristics of alternative assessments as follows:

Full document contains 206 pages
Abstract: Due to the growing focus on learner independence, peer assessment has received a lion's share of attention in recent years. Nevertheless, this idea is novel to most English language teachers and students in Taiwan where traditional assessment is still dominant. This study investigated college students' attitudes towards and possible language proficiency differences in peer assessment in an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context. Comparisons of correlations between teacher and peer grading were made. The benefits and weaknesses of peer assessment, as well as the teacher's perceptions to this assessment method were examined within the context of oral presentation, since relatively few studies had examined this facet. Eighty-eight college EFL learners and one teacher participated in the study. At the beginning of the semester, the students were provided some training on peer assessment. They had opportunities to discuss assessment criteria with the teacher and practice evaluating their peers before the peer assessment activities. A five-point Likert scale survey was administered before and after the implementation of peer assessment. Other instruments included open-ended questionnaires, written reflections, peer evaluation and feedback forms, within-group peer assessment forms, emails and interviews. In terms of attitudes, the results of the pre- and post-surveys suggested that both high- and low-intermediate students reacted positively to peer assessment. Their attitudes became significantly more positive after experiencing peer assessment. With respect to grading, the high-intermediate students' scores did not have stronger agreement with the teacher's than the low-intermediate students' scores. In fact, the low-intermediate students' grading had, on average, a closer similarity with the teacher's. The reported benefits and weaknesses were organized and discussed according to the coding scheme. The teacher also had favorable perceptions of peer assessment. She would incorporate this assessment method into her future classes especially in group work. Yet, she had some reservations about extensively integrating peer assessment into English curricula owing to the issues of time and class size. This study concludes that, with careful planning and training, peer assessment is a viable alternative assessment in higher education. The research also provides teachers with pedagogical implications for using peer assessment in EFL classrooms.