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Assessment for Learning in teaching English to Young Learners: teachers’ understanding, classroom practice and impact on interactions

Britton, A. M. (2015) Assessment for Learning in teaching English to Young Learners: teachers’ understanding, classroom practice and impact on interactions. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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It has been suggested that Assessment for Learning (AfL) plays a significant role in enhancing teaching and learning in mainstream educational contexts. However, little empirical evidence can support these claims. As AfL has been shown to be enacted predominantly through interactions in primary classes, there is a need to understand if it is appropriate, whether it can be efficiently used in teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) and how it can facilitate learning in such a context. This emerging research focus gains currency especially in the light of SLA research, which suggests the important role of interactions in foreign language learning. This mixed-method, descriptive and exploratory study aims to investigate how teachers of learners aged 7-11 understand AfL; how they implement it; and the impact that such implementation could have on interactions which occur during lessons. The data were collected through lesson observations, scrutiny of school documents, semi-structured interviews and a focus group interview with teachers. The findings indicate that fitness for purpose guides the implementation of AfL in TEYL classrooms. Significantly, the study has revealed differences in the implementation of AfL between classes of 7-9 and 10-11 year olds within each of the three purposes (setting objectives and expectations; monitoring performance; and checking achievement) identified through the data. Another important finding of this study is the empirical evidence suggesting that the use of AfL could facilitate creating conditions conducive to learning in TEYL classes during collaborative and expert/novice interactions. The findings suggest that teachers’ understanding of AfL is largely aligned with the theoretical frameworks (Black & Wiliam, 2009; Swaffield, 2011) already available. However, they also demonstrate that there are TEYL specific characteristics. This research has important pedagogical implications and indicates a number of areas for further research.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Tavakoli, P.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Literature and Languages
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages
ID Code:41939


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