Thinking aloud – bringing cognition to classroom-based language assessment

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This presentation discusses a project which investigated EFL teachers’ cognitions about assessment. Following Borg’s (2006) definition of cognition as what teachers think, know and believe about a matter, we examined how teachers develop their cognitions about assessment, and how these cognitions influence classroom practice. We aimed to help teacher educators to better understand the
factors which promote or prevent effective assessment, and thus develop teacher education.
Departing from previous survey-based research which sought to capture teacher assessment knowledge levels (e.g. Fulcher 2012), we utilized a qualitatively orientated multi-method strategy to data collection. 251 teachers from 57 different countries completed our questionnaire which had been inspired by a survey of teachers’ beliefs about teaching grammar (Borg and Burns, 2008). The
questionnaire explored the participants’ experiences of assessment as language learners and their beliefs about assessment. Ten follow-up interviews were held. Five classroom observations with follow-up interviews were conducted to explore assessment practices.
We had anticipated that assessment experiences as a language learner would be influential on teachers’ assessment practices with teachers testing as they had been tested (Vogt and Tsagari, 2014). However, the participant teachers made a conscious decision not to replicate these practices as they were aware of
the shortcomings of pen-and-paper tests even though they had tended to score high marks on such tests.Instead, teachers used a range of assessment methods associated with assessment for learning. The participants expressed discomfort when grading students. We contend that the discomfort is based on
an awareness of the limitations of the assessments they were required to use and not insufficient assessment knowledge (Fulcher, 2012). Experiences in the classroom and participation in continuous professional development courses were found to be more influential in the development of teachers’
assessment practices and beliefs than either their schooling or initial teacher training qualifications.
Period29 Aug 2019
Event titleBritish Association of Applied Linguistics Conference 2019: Broadening the Horizons of Applied Linguistics: Broadening the Horizons of Applied Linguistics
Event typeConference
Conference number52
LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational