The most important and, perhaps, the most difficult part of the teaching process is the assessment of the students’ skills. It is obvious that students develop their skills, and it is necessary to take into account the progress and gaps concerning different types of skills in order to choose the most appropriate methods of teaching and assessment. Another dilemma concerns the issue whether English language learners should be assessed on common bases or they should be put into special conditions while being taught and assessed.
Reasoning Earning Targets
It is obvious that we should assign primary importance to the reasoning learning targets because the skills of analyzing, evaluating, and classifying are not inborn ones and they should be developed. The most appropriate ways of developing these skills are various learning methods including performance, writing essays, oral presentations, observation and reporting. Moreover, the reasoning learning targets allow the instructor to introducing more engaging and thought-provoking activities, suchlike observation of certain events and reporting including development of writing skills, reading different literature sources and synthesizing information presented by different authors on similar or related issues.
The first reasoning learning target concerns the development of comparing and evaluating skills and presupposes that a student should differentiate between objects, notions, and concepts. The second reasoning learning target includes the development of summarizing and inferring skills and presupposes that a student should summarize information presented either by the instructor during the class or in the book while fulfilling the home assignment and make appropriate conclusions on materials.
The third target presupposes that a student should be able to cope with assignments related to the development of analyzing and synthesizing skills; this means that a student should operate with information from materials provided by the instructor, be able to compare, differentiate, and make appropriate conclusions. The fourth reasoning learning target includes development of the justifying skills and presupposes that a student should choose an option from the offered ones and explain his/her choice; in this case some contradictory topics can be introduced in order to provoke debate among students and evaluate knowledge and justifying skills of several students at a time.
The fifth reasoning learning target presupposes that a student should be able to classify certain items, notions, or concepts related to different areas of knowledge or grouped according to a specific principle; this activity is aimed at developing students’ classifying skills. The sixth target includes development of synthesizing and relating cause and effect skills; a student should be able to evaluate information and recognize the cause of the event with regard to its consequences.
The proper instructions for the quiz presuppose that an instructor should explain to students orally or submit an explanation attached to the assignment concerning the rules of fulfilling the assignment and additional information on those. For example, if an instructor introduces the assignment for the first reasoning learning target which concerns the development of comparing and evaluating skills and presupposes that a student should differentiate between various objects, notions, and concepts; the assignment may be presented in the form of a one-paragraph written response where a student would be asked to give a brief response to the situation (presented by the instructor), evaluate the situation and compare several concepts or events. Ask a student to identify whether the concepts are similar, if so, suggest a student to present criteria according to which he/she finds these concepts similar or different.
Essays are another way to assess students’ knowledge and skills. Moreover, the writing skills may not be assessed as those of primary importance. Indicate how much time the students should spend in each essay. Present a topic of an essay and introduce areas that can be considered if this was not discussed during classes. Some topics may be contradictory, so, be ready to receive a wide range of different ideas. Indicate rubrics for essays; the rubrics may concern the theme and presuppose certain skills to be demonstrated, or may include only general rules of writing, suchlike format and citation style.
The first topic may be presented in order to let students demonstrate their justifying skills: “The good is the absence of evil. Agree or disagree with the statement and justify your position.” In this case students are asked to write a three-to-five-paragraph essay. The rubric includes an introductory part where the students should state their firm position on whether they agree or disagrees with the statement in the topic; present a thesis statement which is the main idea of an essay. The body should contain one-to-three paragraphs containing discussion of the issue.
If you ask the students to include a three-paragraph body, you should ask them to present one argument with a supportive idea in the first body paragraph, another argument with a supportive idea in the second body paragraph, and a counterargument in the third body paragraph. A counterargument presupposes that a student should leave some space for an alternative position. This alternative option may be simply presented like a contrast or you may ask the students to refute the counterargument in order to make their position more strong.
If you ask the students to include only one paragraph into the main body of their essay, it can contain discussion of the issue using the stream of consciousness technique. In this case you are sure to see the demonstration of various original ideas, while a three-paragraph body may appear to be challenging and even difficult for students. The last part of the rubric concerns the conclusion of the paper. It is necessary to explain what you are expecting to see in the conclusion: whether it should be a paraphrasing of the introductory part or the students will be asked to introduce some idea for further consideration. You may require giving possible recommendations for the successive discussion.
It is necessary to present a specific rubric for English language learners because the students are likely to fail considering such principles as mechanics and clarity which may happen because of the poor command of the language. Analytical skills are common for students of different cultures, though it may appear to be challenging for foreign students to shape their thoughts and ideas in accordance with the format and rules of the English language. It is obvious that students that get poor grades for their papers because of the lack of confidence or inappropriateness of the ideas on certain topics should be contrasted to those which fail to write properly because of the poor command of English.
Some types of assessment can be considered universal for students with different writing and intellectual skills as they presuppose fulfilment of tests with multiple-choice answers or performing activities. Writing essay papers should be assessed according to certain rubrics; the instructor should make sure that the students understand the requirements properly.