Bringing Classroom-Based Assessment into the EFL classroom


Kyungpook National University, Republic of Korea


This  paper  describes  how  English  as  a  Foreign  Language  (EFL)  teachers  can  bring  reliable,
valid, user-friendly assessment into their classrooms, and thus improve the quality of learning
that  occurs  there.  Based  on  the  experience  of  the  author  as  a  an  EFL  teacher  and  teacher-trainer, it is suggested that the promotion and development of autonomy, intrinsic motivation,
and  self-esteem  that  takes  place  in  a  Classroom-Based  Assessment  (CBA)  environment
facilitates  an  holistic  approach  to  language  learning  and  prepares  the  students  for  the  high-stakes  tests  that  often  determine  their  motivation  for  learning  English.  Rather  than  relying  on
the  memorization  of  language  code,  form,  lexis,  and  prepared  answers,  students  who  have
learned  in  a  CBA  environment  are  able  to  self-assess,  peer-assess,  build  portfolios,  and  edit
their  own  work.  Not  only  does  this  reduce  the  assessment  burden  on  the  teacher,  but  it  also
develops the skills of problem-solving, critical thinking, and summarization in the students, in
addition  to  a  heightened  awareness  of  the  language-learning  process.  By  learning  how  to  set
goals,  assess  their  achievements,  and  reflect  on  their  future  learning  needs,  students  become
more  efficient  language  learners.  While  acknowledging  the  place  of  standardized,  summative
tests  in  contemporary  society,  it  is  suggested  that  CBA  in  the  EFL  classroom  can  enhance
long-term  learning  and  consequently  enable  and  empower  students  to  prepare  for  their  future
learning needs.


Main Subjects

English  as  a  Foreign  Language  (EFL)
instructors  of  secondary,  tertiary,  and  adult
students  in  East  Asia  and  Korea  in
particular,  face  a  common  dilemma  posed
by  standardized,  high-stakes  tests  such  as
the  Test  of  English  as  a  Foreign  Language
(TOEFL),  the  Test  of  English  for
International  Communication  (TOEIC)  and

the  International  English  Language  Testing
System  (IELTS),  as  well  as  local  university
entrance  exams  and  end-of-semester  tests,
all  of  which  promote  extrinsic  motivation,
intensive  study  over  short  periods  of  time,
last-minute  cramming,  and  memorization  of
prepared answers. While these tests all serve
a  well-defined  purpose,  their  effect  in  the
EFL  classroom  can  be  deleterious  in  terms
of  real  learning,  in  that  the  attention  of  all
the  stakeholders  in  the  learning  process
(parents,  students,  principals,  and  teachers)
is  directed  to  the  passing  of  these  tests  and
the  associated  rewards  that  go  with  this,
rather  than  the  lifelong  learning  process
itself.  Language  instructors  who  are  aware
of  the  benefits  of  long-term  learning
strategies and the development of autonomy,
intrinsic  motivation,  and  self-esteem,  can
find  themselves  caught  in  the  test-preparation  trap,  rather  than  promote
lifelong-learning  strategies  in  their  students.
Despite  the  extensive  research  findings
against  the  use  of  high-stakes,  one-off  tests
as  sole  determiners  of  the  students’  future
careers  (Hout  &  Elliott,  2011),  the  practice
of  short-term  test-preparation  continues  to
overwhelm  language-learning  curricula  in
,  even  in  teacher-training  institutes,
where the national Teachers’ Test dominates
all  pedagogical  considerations,  in  apparent
contradiction  to  the  humanistic  “Principles
and  general  objectives  of  education”
(UNESCO  2010/2011)  as  set  out  in  the
National  Curriculum  (KEDI,  2007).  This  is
an  indication  of  the  seriousness  of  the
current  situation,  in  that  the  very  institutes
that  should  be  leading  the  field  by
advocating  and  producing  alternative,
pedagogically  sound  methods  of  language

teaching  and  assessment,  are  caught  in  the
same  test-preparation  paradigm,  in  effect
teaching  future  language  teachers  how  to
prepare  their  students  for  high  stakes  tests,
and ignoring the effects that this approach is
having on students (Nathan, 2002).
In  view  of  these  considerations,  this  paper
attempts  to  show  that  Classroom-Based
Assessment  offers  an  effective,  bottom-up
approach  to  the  problem  of  extrinsically
motivated  language  learning  and  can  be
effective  in  developing  the  higher-order
thinking  skills  that  students  need  when
preparing  for  high-stakes  tests.  However,  it
will  be  appropriate  at  this  point  to  take  a
brief  look  at  the  current  situation  facing
TEFL  practitioners,  with  regard  to
1.  Teachers  of  English  need  to  assess
their  students’  learning  needs  and
achievements.  This  is  an  important
part  of  their  daily  work,  whether  at
elementary,  secondary  (middle
school,  high  school)  or  tertiary
(university, college) level.  
2.  Assessment of language learning is a
topic in which TEFL professionals in
Korea rarely receive tuition (teacher-training)  or  opportunities  for
professional  development  (seminars,
workshops and conferences).  
3.  ELT  Textbooks  used  in  secondary
and  tertiary  education  in  Korea
typically  contain  no  assessment
materials.  Middle  school  and  high-school  books  in  particular  provide

very  basic  content  matter  for  the
national  university  entrance  exam,
but  they  offer  no  feedback  for
teachers  and  students  in  terms  of
assessment  content  and  practice.
Because of this:
  If  teachers  want  to  review  Chapters
in  the  school  textbook,  they  must
make  their  own  assessment
  If  teachers  want  to  perform  pre-course  needs  analyses  and  post-course  reviews  of  learning  based  on
the  syllabus  in  the  textbook,  they
must make their own materials.  
  If  high  school  teachers  want  to
prepare students more effectively for
the  university  entrance  test
(government-approved textbooks are
typically  too  narrow  in  their  focus),
they  must  use  independently
published  test-preparation  books,  or
the  government-subsidized
Educational  Broadcasting  Service
(EBS) test-preparation books.
4.  Most  secondary  EFL  teaching  in
Korea is test-driven:
  Many  teachers  are  under  pressure  to
teach  test-taking  skills  rather  than
linguistic  competence  or  the
intrinsic love of language learning.  
  Students  who  have  to  acquire  large
amounts of vocabulary and grammar
for  the  College  Scholastic
Achievement  Test  (CSAT),  the
TOEFL,  or  the  TOEIC  are  not
interested  in  language  activities
which  (however  enjoyable  and
motivational)  do  not  appear  to  be
related to the test for which they are
5.  High-stakes,  standardized  tests  offer
little  or  no  feedback  to  teachers
regarding  test-construction  criteria
and  test-item  results.  This  makes  it
even  more  difficult  to  prepare
students for these tests.
It  is  evident  from  this  list  that  the  EFL
teacher in Korea is largely on his/her own in
terms  of  developing  test-design  skills  and
finding  ways  to  check  on  comprehension
and  acquisition  of  syllabus  content.  This
paper  therefore  aims  to  help  teachers  and
students  to  develop  the  skills  they  need  for
realistic evaluation of learning achievements
and  needs.  In  order  to  do  this,  it  focuses  on
CBA,  with  its  various  learning-centered
methods  of  investigating  the  events
occurring  in  the  language  classroom.  These
methods include:
  Investigating  the  learning
  gathering information;
  teacher-designed  and  student-designed formative tests;
  self- and peer-assessment;
  performance assessment;
  language portfolios;
  learner journals and diaries;
  projects;
  web-based assessment;
  comprehensive tests; and
  grade-negotiation.
What is CBA?
Classroom-Based  Assessment  deals  with
internal testing – the assessment events that
occur  in  the  EFL  classroom.  This
assessment  focuses  on  the  immediate
learning  needs  of  the  students,  providing
Bringing Classroom-Based Assessment  47   
appropriate feedback for each class, helping
the  teacher  to  prepare  learning  materials  for
future  lessons,  and  helping  students  learn
how  to  learn.  CBA  has  a  number  of
  CBA  is  part  of  the  learning  content
(the means is the end);
  CBA  examines  student  development
over  a  period  of  time  (rather  than
taking  a  summative  snapshot  at  one
point in time);
  CBA  focuses  on  what  students  can
do (not on what they can’t do);
  Students  are  evaluated  on  their
performance  (rather  than  on  their
  CBA  is  concerned  with  the  process
of  learning  (though  product  can  be
present  in  forms  of  CBA  such  as
journals, portfolios and projects);
  CBA  is  absolute  (looking  at
individual  growth)  rather  than
relative  (comparing  students  with
each other); and
  CBA  recognizes  the  complexity  of
factors  affecting  learning  in  the  EFL
classroom  (learning  styles,  language
proficiencies,  cultural  and
educational  backgrounds,  emotional
management, social skills, etc.).  
CBA thus aims to make language evaluation
more  authentic,  meaningful  and  relevant  to
the  students  and  the  teacher.  In  addition  to
being an integral part of the learning cycle in
the  classroom,  it  also  helps  students  to
become  aware  of  the  language  learning
process,  to  examine  their  learning  needs,  to
make realistic learning  goals, to assess their
achievement  of  those  goals,  to  reflect  on
their  achievements,  and  to  make  new  goals.
CBA  takes  evaluation  to  the  learner,  and
gives  him/her  the  information  he/she  needs
in  order  to  take  responsibility  for  his/her
learning.  CBA  focuses  on  the  immediate
learning  needs  of  the  students,  providing
feedback  specific  to  each  class,  helping  the
teacher  to  prepare  learning  materials  for
future lessons,  and helping students to learn
how  to  learn.  The  affective  and  social
benefits  of  this  approach  extend  far  beyond
the classroom, since students who learn how
to  set  realistic  goals  and  how  to  evaluate
their  achievement  of  those  goals  are
acquiring  a  valuable  life  skill.  CBA  is  not
simply  an  item  of  theoretical  debate.  It  is  a
valuable learning tool.  
CBA  in  the  EFL  context  has  a  number  of
characteristics that differentiate it from other
types  of  assessment.  These  can  be
effectively  described  by  adapting  and
expanding  Kohonen’s  table  (1999,  p.  285)
from  his  paper  on  authentic  assessment
(Table 1):

If  we  look  closely  at  these  basic  principles
of  CBA  (Table  1),  we  can  see  that  they
involve and require a student-centered, non-threatening  learning  environment.
According to this approach, assessment is an
integral  part  of  instruction,  each  learner  is
treated  as  a  unique  person,  the  emphasis  is
on  strengths  and  progress  (finding  out  and
building  on:  what  learners  can  do),
assessment  is  used  for  improving  and
guiding learning, the emphasis is on higher-order learning outcomes  and thinking skills,
and  collaborative  learning  enables  learners
to  help  each  other  and  work  as  teams.
Finally,  learning  is  seen  as  valuable  for  its
own sake (intrinsic learning).  
CBA thus aims to make language evaluation
more  authentic,  meaningful  and  relevant  to
the  students  and  the  teacher,  and  it  presents 
an  effective  means  of  investigating  and
improving  learning  in  the  secondary
language  classroom,  despite  any  restrictions
concerning syllabus and  lesson content. Not
only does this approach make students more
aware  of  the  learning  process,  but  it  also
reduces  the  assessment  burden  on  the
teacher  (by  involving  students  in  the
evaluation  process),  giving  him/her  more
time to manage the learning environment. If
such  considerations  seem  idealistic,
especially  in  the  test-driven  language
classroom,  we  must  ask  ourselves,  as
educators, why it is that “ideal” conditions
are lacking in the education system or in our
classes.  If  ministerial  educational  objectives
aim  to  promote  “the  ability  to  achieve  an
independent  life  and  acquire  the
qualifications  of  democratic  citizens,  and  to
be  able  to  participate  in  the  building  of  a
democratic  state  and  promoting  the
prosperity of all humankind” (Park, 2001, p.
3), then it is the responsibility of teachers to
produce  learning  environments  that  realize
that goal.
The  current  high-stakes  testing  cloud
appears to have a silver lining, however, and
there  are  signs  of  change  in  terms  of
educational  reform  in  Asia.  In  Korea,  for
example,  the  Ministry  of  Education  and
Human Resources has initiated development
of  a  National  English  Ability  Test  (NEAT)
that  tests  all  four  skills  (instead  of  just
reading  and  listening  as  in  the  CSAT)  and
will  begin  in  2015.  High  school  class  work
will  also  be  given  more  weight  when
students  apply  for  university  (Jin,  2004).  If
these  changes  become  reality,  then  teachers
will  be  empowered  to  focus  on  intrinsic
motivation and development of performance
skills  and  learning  strategies  in  their
classrooms,  and  CBA  will  become  a
powerful tool for enhancing that learning.
Why should we use CBA?
Before  considering  the  topic  of  assessing
language learning, it is necessary first to ask
how  language  learning  occurs.  The  solution
to  this  question  continues  to  evade
researchers,  though  certain  factors  can  be
1.  construction of meaning;  
2.  sharing of experiences;  
3.  identification of needs and purposes;  
4.  critical  evaluation  of  performance
strategies; and  
5.  awareness of this process  
(Harri-Augstein  &  Thomas,  1991,  p. 7).  
CBA  pays  attention  to  these  factors,  using
reflective  forms  of  assessment  in
instructionally  relevant  classroom  activities
(communicative  performance  assessment,
language portfolios and self-assessment) and
focusing  on  curriculum  goals,  enhancement
of individual competence, and integration of
instruction  and  assessment.  In  this  two-way
process, “the essentially interactive nature of
learning  is  extended  to  the  process  of
assessment” (Williams  &  Burden,  1997,  p.
42).  This  approach  to  assessment  examines
what  learners  can  do  with  their  language,
through  real-life  language-use  tasks  (cf.
Weir,  1998,  p.  9).  The  result  is  a  process-oriented means of evaluating communicative
competence, cognitive abilities and affective
learning  (Hart,  1994,  p.  9;  O’Malley  &
Pierce,  1996,  pp.  x-6;  Kohonen,  1999,  p.
The  principles  behind  CBA  are  largely
concerned  with  promoting  effective
learning,  to  the  benefit  of  everyone
concerned.  At  this  point,  therefore,  it  is
relevant to refer to the “Ten considerations
crucial  for  language  teachers”  offered  by
Williams & Burden (1997).  
1.  There  is  a  difference  between
learning and education.  
2.  Learners  learn  what  is  meaningful  to
3.  Learners  learn  in  ways  that  are
meaningful to them.  
4.  Learners  learn  better  if  they  feel  in
control of what they are learning.  
5.  Learning  is  closely  linked  to  how
people feel about themselves.  
6.  Learning  takes  place  in  a  social
context  through  interactions  with
other people.
7.  What  teachers  do  in  the  classroom
reflects  their  own  beliefs  and
8.  There  is  a  significant  role  for  the
teacher  as  mediator  in  the  language
9.  Learning  tasks  represent  an  interface
between teachers and learners.
10. Learning  is  influenced  by  the
situation  in  which  it  occurs.
(Williams & Burden, 1997, p. 204)
How can we use CBA?
Despite  the  restrictions  of  the  test-driven
classroom  and  other  localized  (specific  to
individual  schools)  demands  on  the  teacher,
the  author  has  fund  that  there  are  are  a
number  of  ways  in  which  principles  and
practices of CBA can be introduced into the
EFL classroom.  
Learners  in  groups  learn  more  than
they  do  as  individuals  (Vygotsky,
1978). This is true for all members of
the  group.  Not  only  do  the  weaker
members  benefit  from  being
instructed  by  someone  who  shares
their  zone  of  proximal  development
(ZPD),  but  the  stronger  members
also  benefit,  since  the  best  way  to
learn  something  is  to  teach  it  to
someone else.
students  to  complete  these
themselves,  using  an  interview
format  (exchange  worksheets  and
write  the  partner’s  responses  on
his/her sheet). The worksheets can be
stored in individual portfolios.
3.  USE  PORTFOLIOS.  Portfolios
combine process and product, giving
students  and  teachers  an  ongoing
view of the learning that takes place.
These  can  be  either  collection
portfolios  (including  everything  that
has  happened  in  class)  or  showcase
portfolios  (including  only  the  work
which  the  student  wants  others  to
DIARIES.  Writing  is  a  skill  that
improves  with  practice,  and  diaries
encourage students to write regularly
and  meaningfully.  Learner  journals
also  help  them  to  reflect  on  the
learning process and to become more
effective learners.
“Mutually  Exclusive  Goal
Attainment”  (MEGA)  (Kohn,  1992,
p.  4)  approach  of  competitive
language  learning  encourages
“learned  helplessness”  and
demotivation.  Even  if  groups
compete against each other, there can
be only one winner, and the focus of
work tends towards competing rather
than  learning.  For  an  excellent
description  of  the  dangers  of  using
competition  in  the  classroom,  the
reader is referred to Kohn’s book No
contest:  The  case  against
competition (1992).  
INTRINSICALLY.  Rewards  are  a
two-edged  sword,  and  can  quickly
become  meaningless.  If  they  are
given  to  the  “winners”  then  other
students  become  demotivated.  If  the
are  given  to  everyone,  then  the
hierarchical  function  of  the  rewards
is  lost  and  the  teacher  becomes  a
dispenser  of  candies  and  gold  stars.
Readers  who  are  interested  in
pursuing  this  topic  further  are
recommended  to  read  another
exceptional  book  by  Alfie  Kohn:
Punished by rewards (1999).  
ASSESSMENT. Even if end-of-term
exams  are  relative  (comparing
students  with  each  other  and
therefore  defining  many  students  as
losers),  absolute  assessment  can  be
used  in  class  during  the  semester.
This  allows  teachers  to  encourage
individual  (and  group)  growth  rather
than  pitting  students  against  each
other. Slow learners can be confident
that  their  development  is  seen  as
valid  by  the  teacher,  and  quick
learners  (including  those  who  have
lived  in  an  English-speaking
country)  must  also  understand  that
they  have  to  show  evidence  of
continuous  improvement  in  order  to
receive good grades.
Projects  (e.g.  a  class  newspaper)
enable learners to work in groups, to
define  objectives  (goal  setting),  to
work  on  individual  tasks  (allocation
of  responsibility  and  accountability),
to  reflect  on  what  still  needs  to  be
done  (formative  assessment)  and  to
work  together  on  a  finished  product
(achievement).  Projects  can  also
promote  intrinsic  learning  and  are
effectively  assessed  through  peer-assessment.  For  an  excellent
discussion of the advantages of using
projects,  the  reader  is  referred  to
Legukte  &  Thomas’  book  Process
and  experience  in  the  language
classroom (1991).
Naturalistic enquiry
In  addition  to  performing  needs  analyses,
EFL  teachers  acquire  a  great  deal  of
information  about  their  students  based  on
observations and personal instincts, and this
information can be used to improve learning
and  the  learning  environment.  Naturalistic
teacher  insights  are  not  to  be  dismissed  as
“subjective” impressions, but should be seen
as valuable, professional judgments:  
The  status  of  evaluation  in  the
twentieth century represents one
of the most striking paradoxes in
the  history  of  thought:  An

essential -  and perhaps the most
important  -  ingredient  in  all
intellectual and practical activity
has  been  explicitly  banned  or
implicitly  excluded  from
discussion  or  acknowledgement
in  most  of  its  natural  territory.
(Scriven, 1991, p. 10)
This “most important ingredient” referred to
by  Scriven  is  the  professional,  informed
opinion  of  the  teacher,  which  has  been
defined  as  worthless  by  “objective”
evaluation.  Such  an  impersonal  approach
ignores  the  fact  that  the  classroom  is  “the
social-psychological  and  material
environment  in  which  students  and  teachers
work  together”  (Parlett  &  Hamilton,  1975,
p. 145) and represents a network of cultural,
social,  institutional  and  psychological
variables  that  interact  in  complex  ways.
Because  of  this,  assessment  must  be
transparent,  non-threatening,  student-centered  and  formative  (feeding  back  into
the  course  to  improve  it).  It  must  also
consider every aspect of learning (linguistic,
cognitive, affective, emotional, cultural, and
social).  Qualitative  methods  of  assessment
are  therefore  appropriate  for  CBA,  though
this  is  not  to  exclude  quantitative  methods
when appropriate. If learning and growth are
examined  qualitatively  (through  interviews,
journals,  learning  conversations,  etc.)  it  is
possible  to  get  an  overall  picture  and  then
make quantitative questionnaires and tests to
investigate  in  more  detail.  It  should  also  be
remembered  that  the  student  is  at  the  center
of the learning process, and should be in the
same place in terms of assessment.  
A  variety  of  information-gathering
techniques are used in naturalistic enquiry: i)
interviews;  ii)  questionnaires;  iii)
observation;  iv)  diaries;  v)  student  records;
and  vi)  portfolios.  We  might  also  add
self/peer-assessment  and  learning
conversations to this list, bringing us back to
the  fact  that  the  best  way  to  improve  the
learning  environment  is  to  get  the  students
actively  involved  in  assessing  and
improving  their  learning.  The  process  of
continuous  self/peer-assessment  and
consequent  raised  awareness  is  in  itself  a
beneficial reflection on and use of data. The
construction  of  a  learner-centered,  non-threatening,  environment,  in  which
assessment is an integral part of instruction,
is therefore an end in itself, and will produce
its own positive results (Finch, 2001).  
Naturalistic  enquiry  can  thus  provide
important information to the most important
people in the learning process – the students
and  the  teacher.  From  the  point  of  view  of
the  students,  there  can  be  attention  to
product  as  well  as  process,  in  that  they  can
have  a  learning  journal  (diary)  and  one  or
more  portfolios  as  evidence  of  the  growth
that  has  occurred  during  the  language
course.  They  might  also  have  videos  of
projects  designed  and  performed  by  them.
These  will  all  assist  in  the  formation  of
positive  attitudes  to  learning,  and  will
therefore  improve  the  quality  of  learning
itself (success breeds success).  
Naturalistic  data  analysis  happens  all  the
time.  The  teacher  sets  up  a  non-threatening
CBA environment, with portfolios, journals,
self-assessment,  etc.,  and  then  observes  the
results  and  the  process.  As  time  passes,
trends  appear,  and  it  becomes  evident  that
certain  aspects  of  learning  need  extra

attention. At that time, the teacher can adjust
his/her  teaching  accordingly,  and  repair  the
learning process at first hand, without delay,
and on an individual, group or class basis. If
we  acknowledge  the  teacher  as  a
professional,  an  expert  who  can  make
informed  decisions,  then  we  can  see  that
CBA  (and  naturalistic  enquiry)  provide  the
personalized  data  upon  which  those
decisions  can  be  made.  The  answer  to  how
to  use  the  data  is  left  in  the  hands  of  the
CBA  produces  a  wealth  of  naturalistic
(deep,  rich,  personal)  data  that  can  be
examined  and  used  as  appropriate.  Rather
than  an  impersonalized  set  of  numbers,  this
data  comes  from  the  students  and  is  about
the  students.  It  is  important  that  this
assessment  information  comes  from  various
sources.  Just  as  a  single  test  can  only  give
the information it is designed to give, so the
use of only one method of CBA can produce
misleading  results.  Teachers  therefore  need
to “triangulate.” This means using different
methods of assessment and comparing them
with each other as follows:  
  Learning  journals  can  uncover
anxieties  and  emotional  problems
that are interfering with learning;  
  portfolios  can  show  that
organizational and time-management
skills have been acquired;  
  observations  can  bring  interaction
issues to light; and
  semi-structured  or  open-ended
interviews  can  reveal  concerns
previously  unimagined  by  the

It  is  not  possible  to  describe  in  depth  the
results  of  CBA  in  the  author’s  EFL
classroom,  since  i)  this  is  largely  a  theory-based  paper,  and  ii)  there  is  a  lack  of  space
for  descriptions  of  methodology  and
classroom  practice.  However,  reference  to
the  author’s  language-learning  website
(  will  confirm
that  he  has  been  using  CBA  for  more  than
ten  years, and that it is  now an integral part
of his teacher-training courses and seminars.
This  can  be  seen  in  particular  in  the
Learning  Journal,  English  Reflections
htm),  which  introduces  a  number  of  self-assessment instruments, discussion activities
(about  language  learning),  and  peer-assessment  activities.  By  working  through
this  learning  journal,  undergraduate  English
Education  students  in  particular  have
opportunities  to  learn  how  to  set  their  own
language  learning  goals,  assess  their
achievements,  discuss  their  learning  needs,
and reflect on the learning process. Contrary
to  the  received  truth  that  Korean  students
prefer  passive  learning
,  examination  of these journals over the past 10 years (Finch,
2008) has shown that these students quickly

become  adept  in  self-  and  peer-assessment
and consequently in learning how to learn –
a skill that is vital for the 21
 century, when
everyone  can  expect  to  reskill  during  their
Further implementation of the CBA concept
has  recently  been  carried  out  by  the  author
in  the  Freshman  English  program  of  his
university  in  Korea.  Having  been  invited  to
design  and  implement  a  Freshman  English
program  that  would  provide  essential
academic  and  career-oriented  English
language  skills  to  freshman  students  in  all
disciplines, the author of this paper designed
and  wrote  the  textbooks  for  an  integrated-skills  program  (Finch,  2012a;  2012b)  that
promoted  English  speaking  and  writing.
Each Unit of this program made use of self-assessment,  peer-assessment,  and  peer
editing  -  three  skills  that  students  typically
did  not  possess  when  they  entered  the
university  Freshman  English  program,
having experienced only memory-based test-preparation in high school. Despite this fact,
the  first  year  of  implementation  of  this
program has shown that students of al levels
and all disciplines are able to learn the skills
associated  with  self/peer-assessment  of
language  skills,  and  of  peer-editing  (in  a
process-writing  context)  in  particular.  They
have  also  shown  an  ability  to  quickly
acquire  the  organizational  skills  involved  in
keeping a portfolio of their assignments and
their written drafts.
While  CBA  has  been  shown  by  the  author
and  other  researchers  to  be  a  viable  and
practical  method  of  empowering  language
learners in this part of Asia, it is important to
remember  that  students  and  teachers  new  to
CBA  need  to  acquire  and  develop  the
appropriate  skills.  Rather  than  blaming
students  for  not  knowing  how  to  set  goals,
how  to  perform  a  needs  analysis,  how  to
make  a  portfolio,  how  to  assess  themselves
and  each  other,  and  how  to  critically  reflect
on their achievements, it is important to take
into  account  the  fact  that  they  have  never
had  any  tuition  in  this  field  and  that
problems  such  as  peer-pressure  and
unwillingness  to  criticize  each  other  are
bound  to  arise.  However,  when  the
classroom is seen as a microcosm of society
it  is  possible  to  deal  with  such  problems  as
they  arise  and  to  work  them  through  in  a
democratic  and  sensitive  manner.  Given  the
opportunity  to  think  about  the  issues
involved  and  to  learn  about  the  vital
importance  of  self-assessment  in  their  lives,
students  are  typically  quick  to  acquire  the
necessary  critical-thinking  skills  and  to
become effective learners.
Knowledge  of  the  elements  of  a
language  in  fact  counts  for
nothing unless the user is able to
combine  them  in  new  and
appropriate  ways  to  meet  the
linguistic  demands  of  the
situation  in  which  he  wishes  to
use  the  language.  (Morrow,
1979, p. 145)
Educational  theory  is  currently  addressing
the  problems  associated  with  an  under-performing  education  system  by  revisiting
ideas  that  Rogers,  Dewey,  Bruner,  Frière
and  Vygotsky  were  expressing  even  before
Applied  Linguistics  was  born,  in  1961.
Indeed,  a  holistic  view  of  education,  which
Bringing Classroom-Based Assessment  77   
can  be  traced  back  to  Aristotle,  Plato,  and
early  oriental  philosophers,  represents  a
return to basic principles, rather than simply
another  fashionable  trend.  In  Korea,  the
ideal  of  Hongik-Ingan  (contributing  to  the
overall  benefit  of  humankind)  has  always
been  at  the  heart  of  education  (UNESCO,
2010/2011; KEDI, 2007). Such an emphasis
must be given utmost urgency in these times
of  natural  and  man-made  disasters;  times  in
which society, in its deification of monetary
gain,  has  neglected  moral  education;  times
in  which  an  ethical  awareness  must  extend
to every aspect of life.
Stevick  (1976)  identifies  four  forms  of
alienation which have resulted in the failure
of modern language teaching:  
1.  alienation  of  the  learners  from  the
2.  alienation  of  the  learners  from
3.  alienation  of  the  learners  from  the
class; and
4.  alienation  of  the  learners  from  the
teacher. (Stevick, 1976, p. 225)
These  alienations  result  from  an  impersonal
education system which values intellect over
emotion,  and  behaviorist  learning  over
moral  responsibility.  However,  changes  that
occurred  in  the  20th century  in  social
science,  psychology,  philosophy,  and
political  science,  indicate  that  in  modern
society,  learning  and  understanding  meta-skills  (problem-solving,  critical  thinking,
etc.)  is  more  important  than  knowledge.
Furthermore,  the  various  kinds  of  social
awareness  (minority  rights,  the  status  of
women,  rights  of  patients,  etc.)  that  have
arisen  have  helped  to  make  quality  of  life
the new marker of social progress. A radical
rethinking  of  education  is  therefore
necessary, since the present model would be
unsatisfactory  even  if  it  worked!  Imagine  a
society  full  of  A+students  as  defined  by
traditional  education.  Who  would  drive  the
trains,  clean  the  streets,  grow  the  food,  and
deliver  the  newspapers?  Such  roles  are
integral to society, yet their artisans are seen
(and  perceive  themselves)  as  unsuccessful
products  of  the  school  system.  Young
people  who  possess  practical  skills  are
forced  to  attend  institutions  that  tell  them
they  are  failures.  They  then  move  on  to
Technical and Vocational Colleges, learning
skills  that  are  the  lifeblood  of  the
community,  but  which  are  not  taught  in
high-level institutions.  
Language  education  is  typically  poor  in
producing  learners  who  can  be  termed
successful,  even  within  the  narrow  criterion
of linguistic proficiency. Because of this, the
question  “How  can  language  be  taught
effectively?” must be exchanged for “How
can  the  language  classroom  become  an
instrument  of  positive  attitude  change?”  In
other words, “How can language classrooms
mirror  changes  in  social  development,  and
produce  future  citizens  equipped  to  take  on
the challenges of a century in which the only
constant factor will be change?” Legutke &
Thomas  (1991,  pp.  7-10)  pose  a  number  of
questions that are relevant at this point:
Question 1:  Is it possible and feasible
to  turn  learners’  classrooms  into
whole-person  events,  where  body  and
soul,  intellect  and  feeling,  head,  hand
and heart converge in action?
Question  2:  Can  second-language
(L2)  learning  be  a  satisfying  activity

in  itself,  in  the  here  and  now  of  the
classroom?  What  adventures  and
challenges are possible under the very
conditions of L2 learning?
Question 3:  What needs  to be done to
regain  some  of  this  creative  potential
in  the  L2  classroom?  Do  we  have  to
consider  individual  and  cultural
Question 4: What needs to be done to
create  situations  and  scenarios  where
communication  in  the  target  language
could  be  more  meaningful?  What  are
the roles of teacher, learners, topic and
input  in  such  scenarios?  Could  even
inter-  and  intra-student  discourse  be
carried out in the target language?
Question 5: What needs to be done to
develop in learners such a capacity for
critique?  How  can  they  become  co-managers  of  their  learning  and
participate  in  their  own  teaching?
How  do  we  create  the  learning  space
so  that  learners  can  take  initiatives  to
pursue  their  own  learning  for  their
own benefit, and to discover their own
learning  styles?  (Legutke  &  Thomas,
1991, pp. 7-10)
These  questions  highlight  both  the  problem
and a means of addressing it. It is no longer
defensible  to  use  discrete-item  testing  of
dubious  constructs.  Instead,  the  need  to
understand  performance  itself  and  the
processing  (and  affective)  factors  that
influence  it,  suggests  the  use  of  reflective
forms  of  assessment  in  instructionally
relevant  classroom  activities
(communicative  performance  assessment,
language  portfolios  and  self-assessment),
which focus on integration of instruction and
assessment.  In  this  two-way  process,  the
essentially interactive nature of learning can
be  extended  to  the  process  of  assessment
(Williams  &  Burden,  1997,  p.  42),
examining  what  learners  can  do  with  their
language,  through  real-life  language  use
tasks (cf. Weir, 1998, p. 9).


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