Elon University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Page: 5983
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Foreign language teachers strive to improve their teaching skills in order to help students learn better. They constantly seek ways for innovation in teaching and pay attention to students’ learning outcomes. At the same time, many foreign language teachers feel that their students need to be more autonomous. Although learner autonomy is considered as one of the most crucial characteristics of successful language learner, it is not something that is realized easily. It involves a great deal of participation on the part of students themselves. In order to help develop learner autonomy, many foreign language instructors purposefully incorporate various techniques in their everyday teaching practice. One example is having students be responsible for their own learning by giving them opportunity to evaluate their performance, rather than using instructor’s top-down evaluations only.

This study explores whether and how incorporating self-assessment in everyday foreign language classroom practice promotes learner autonomy. A previous study found that students’ motivation for active participation in class is connected with the notion of grades. Thus, the purpose of the present study is to investigate (1) whether self-assessment influences students’ motivation for learning from the student’s point of view, and (2) whether any evidence of self-assessment leading to learner autonomy can be observed from the teacher’s point of view.

A total of 29 students of Japanese as a foreign language in three different proficiency levels (i.e., first-, second-, and third-year levels) at a private American university participated in the study. During the semester that this project was conducted, at the end of every class, students were asked to evaluate their class participation in four categories – use of Japanese, pair work, whole-class work, and any other goal they had, using a rubric that allows them to earn up to 20 points in each class. Three types of data, scores from the self-assessment, end-of-semester questionnaire, and follow-up interviews, are analyzed separately first and then triangulated for more in-depth interpretation in order to answer the aforementioned questions.

Discussions of qualitative aspects of the data and implications for incorporating self-assessment for developing learner autonomy will be the central role in this presentation. Aspects that made this self-assessment experience effective, as well as aspects that made it challenging, in this specific context will be shared from both students' and instructor’s perspectives in order to suggest areas for further consideration. Since this project was meant to be the first step for a larger, more structured study, the planned presentation also includes discussions of domains for further investigation.
Self-assessment, autonomy, foreign language.