e-Assessment for Learning: Gaining Insight in Language Learning with Online Assessment Environments

e-Assessment for Learning: Gaining Insight in Language Learning with Online Assessment Environments

Jan Van Maele (KU Leuven - Group T, Belgium), Lut Baten (KU Leuven, Belgium), Ana Beaven (Università di Bologna, Italy) and Kamakshi Rajagopal (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2821-2.ch014

Abstract

This chapter illustrates how e-assessment of oral proficiency in the foreign language can be designed and conducted in ways that enhance the students’ learning experience. Referring to the authors’ experiences with the WebCEF and CEFcult assessment platforms, the chapter shows how a variety of technical functionalities of these two online tools create a supportive environment for a pedagogical approach known as assessment for learning. The discussion focuses on three key principles of the approach: the structural involvement of learners in the assessment process, the elicitation of effective feedback, and the development of self-assessment skills. While documenting the great potential of online assessment environments for gaining insight in language learning, the chapter also points out some of its current limitations and how ongoing research might help to overcome these.
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Introduction

In recent years online or e-assessment of oral language skills has developed with the spread of e-learning and online testing within foreign language teaching and learning. Although much of the assessment done in online environments is assessment of learning, assessment for learning can help motivate students by raising their awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, rather than simply measuring these. In this chapter, it will be illustrated how e-assessment can support assessment for learning with special reference to two online learning and assessment tools that were co-developed by the authors within the European projects WebCEF (www.cefcult.eu). WebCEF was primarily concerned with the assessment of oral production with reference to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) while CEFcult added to this the assessment of intercultural competence. The discussion will be set within the context of foreign language courses for non–language majors within higher education, centering on a group of business students in Leuven, Belgium, who are preparing for intercultural encounters in international business.

After introducing Assessment for Learning (AfL) from a conceptual point of view, and setting it within the context of the principles of sound testing, we will provide an overview of the two tools and the most relevant affordances for the purposes of AfL. In the main body of the chapter, we will discuss these with reference to the specific uses made within the courses at the University of Leuven, Belgium, showing how the tools can be used to enhance the learners’ experiences through effective feedback and the development of self-assessment skills. Finally, we will discuss some of the critical issues concerning the tools, as well as suggest directions for future research.

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