Free «Assessing Young Learners» Essay
The author starts her discussion by posing a thought provoking question ‘Why are traditional methods problematic?’. A question, that I think, is worth asking because it helps us as teachers of young learners to maintain a conscious awareness of our previous experience as well as our intentions and ambitions.
While I fully agree with Pinter regarding the drawbacks of traditional types of assessment, yet I suppose that they were probably judged so harshly. If our goal is to “determine how children are doing in the particular curriculum being used in the classroom or school”, then why not use such types notwithstanding the fact that they are aimed merely at evaluating the writing and reading skills.
She suggests that various assessment techniques like; observations, portfolios, project works and self-assessment can be “incorporated into the teaching practice of any context”. She considers all pros and cons of every technique, thus giving the teachers a chance to decide which tools to adopt and develop according to their abilities and the abilities of their students.
I also think that she failed to establish a strong sense of using information gained from the assessment process while planning the activities targeted at specific needs of children, and most importantly while sharing the progress with the child's family and with the child himself.
Within this relatively short chapter, I can see that it mostly gives evidence in support of the specific ‘child-friendly’ methods of assessment presented by the author. And although Pinter introduces the reader to many interesting and useful notes about assessing young learners, yet one would assume that if this chapter was truly intended to inform the teachers rather than urge them upon a certain approach, the author would put a greater emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of ‘traditional’ assessment tools. It is at this point that I feel Pinter’s chapter is aimed at persuading rather than mere informing.
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In the overall, the only merit one can get from this chapter is the idea of self-assessment in which children are asked to think about their performance and evaluate it. This is indeed something very intriguing because only a few students are self-assured enough to show the possibility of independent thinking and most of them are actually afraid to try.