Self- and Peer-Assessments in the Iranian Context: A Systematic Review

Self- and Peer-Assessments in the Iranian Context: A Systematic Review

Abbas Ali Rezaee (University of Tehran, Iran) and Enayat A. Shabani (Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5846-0.ch016


Assessment is an integral part of any education. Traditionally, pen-and-paper examinations have been widely used all over the world, although new trends in assessing language ability have put more emphasis on learner autonomy and participation. Self-assessment and peer-assessment are two concepts that have been introduced in alternative assessment. However, teachers in the Iranian context may be reluctant to put these assessment types into practice because they are seen as authority handover. This systematic review examines the research literature on self- and peer-assessment in ELT settings in Iran. Results indicate that enacting these assessment types in the Iranian context is by no means authority handover, and that teachers and students generally have positive attitudes towards them. The review indicates that both self- and peer-assessments can enhance student autonomy in learning and assessment and increase teaching effectiveness. Implications for the Iranian classroom are discussed.
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Background And Literature Review

The terms “assessment”, “testing”, “measurement”, “evaluation”, and even “appraisal”, are sometimes used among educators as synonyms, despite various attempts in the literature to accurately differentiate their meanings. In relation to ELT, the term “testing” is perhaps most commonly used when talking about measuring a particular (e.g. linguistic) ability. “Assessment”, on the other hand, is often employed with a more general meaning in the literature. That is, it has been described as an on-going process which may be done through a test, interview, questionnaire, observation and so on. As such, it may be broadly defined as any procedure used to better understand the current knowledge that a student possesses.

Following this, it is possible to state that assessment is the evaluation of students’ achievements and that there are many types of assessment, each of which is designed to allow for the best judgment of student performance in a given circumstance. It is also of paramount importance to understand that, no matter which techniques are utilized, the information gathered through assessment should provide accurate estimates of student performance and enable teachers and other decision-makers to make appropriate and informed decisions.

Nunan (1990, p. 62) defines assessment as, “The set of processes through which we make judgments about a learner’s level of skills and knowledge”. It may affect decisions about grades, advancement, placement, instructional needs, and even curriculum. For example, assessment of the comprehension of an immigrant child can help curriculum designers understand whether the child is able to follow a course of study in a school or whether extra language teaching is required.

Brookhart (2003) argues that assessment and learning are integrated within the classroom. Fulcher and Davidson (2007, p. 27) state that the nature of this integration can be viewed in terms of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), or the distance between what an individual can do independently and what they can accomplish with assistance. As a regular part of their activity, teachers assess student learning. The main objective of this is to increase learning efficiency and inform better teaching. As a result, the teacher, who plays the role of assessor in the classroom, is actively engaged in the assessment process, and observes and analyzes the outcomes of the assessment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Language Assessment: A field of study within applied linguistics. It focuses on the assessment of at all levels of education as well as in the workplace.

EFL Learner: A phrase usually used for non-native English speakers learning English in a country where English is neither commonly spoken nor a medium of instruction.

Evaluation: Ascribing value, worth, or merit to the information collected through steps taken in measurement or testing.

Systematic Review: A qualitative or quantitative bias-free appraisal and synthesis of research papers in a study area via careful and documented procedures.

Measurement: The procedure of assigning numbers to various cases according to a set of conventional rules.

Peer-Assessment: A procedure during which learners assess the level, value, or quality of the performance of their classmates.

Teacher Authority: The power to affect students’ behavior, to ask them to do something, and to examine classroom interactions.

Self-Assessment: Assessing oneself on one’s own abilities, qualities, or actions, particularly in terms of performance in a learning task with respect to a specific standard.

Testing: The use of measurement to support inferences about students’ knowledge, skills, or abilities.

Assessment: A range of methods or tools used for evaluating, measuring, and documenting the academic readiness, learning progress, or skill acquisition of students.

Appraisal: The general term referring to the act of examining someone or something in order to judge their abilities, achievements, or needs.

Learner Autonomy: The learner’s total accountability for making decisions on their learning and implementation of those definitions.

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