FAB – Formative Assessment Benchmarking for Foreign Language Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
What is FAB?
FAB (Formative Assessment for Foreign Language Learning & Teaching in Higher Education) is an international, educational project, which is financed through European Union funds under the Key Action 2: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practice.
The language centres of the four partner institutions that are taking part in the project are: the University of Warsaw (Uniwersytet Warszawski) in Poland, which is also the founder and main organizer of FAB, the University of Pecs (Pecsi Tudomany Egyetem) in Hungary, Turku University of Applied Sciences (Turun Ammattikorkeakoulu) in Finland and the Vytautas Magnus University (Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas) in Kaunas, Lithuania.
In total, about 200 teachers and a few thousand students (as participants in language courses) from the four partner institutions will take part in the project either in a direct or indirect way.
The duration of the project is two years: from 01.10.2015 to 01.10.2017
What are the objectives of FAB?
The main objective of the project is the improvement in the quality of language instruction through providing the language teachers in the four partner institutions with suitable formative assessment tools for evaluating speaking skills. This will be achieved through the promotion and implementation of FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT TOOLS in the teacher’s everyday work, which, in turn, will result in the better quality of their teaching-learning methods, a greater motivation to learn the foreign language on the part of the students, a higher effectiveness of learning process and, eventually, proficiency in the use of foreign languages.
Which activities will be undertaken as part of FAB?
Some of the main activities to be undertaken as part of FAB are:
- the carrying out of a survey in the form of an introductory questionnaire for both the teachers and students about the use (or non-use) of the FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT tools;
- the creation and maintenance of a FAB website and a Facebook account with information about the activities of the project;
- the publishing and disseminating of a Newsletter;
- peer-observation work (at national and international levels);
- workshop meetings for the teachers;
- the completion of concluding questionnaires by both teachers and students;
- the publication of an electronic guidebook with methodological instructions for the teachers and examples of good practice;
- the organization of an international conference on the subject of FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT.
Our interest in FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT is well grounded. Firstly, as yet, no extensive academic research has been carried out in this field and there have been no projects aimed at the promotion of this method in higher education institutions. Secondly, we have decided to focus on speaking skills, because they are a key feature in the process of language communication and, at the same time, they prove difficult to assess.
A greater awarness of the didactic processes that can be achieved by both learners and academic teachers is particularly significant in the area of foreign language instruction in the context of a united Europe, where multilingualism and transculturalism are being promoted.
The implementation of FA tools in everyday teaching practice increases the motivation, commitment and sense of responsibility in the learning process on the part of the students, which decidedly translates into a higher effectiveness of the didactic process. The latter, in turn, will increase the future graduates’ prospects of getting employment in the job market.
As for the teachers, the implementation of the FA tools will allow them to provide a high quality teaching service and to meet the learners’ needs, which are becoming increasingly versatile nowadays.
While working on the project, we will pay a lot of attention to the skill of lifelong learning, because the methods and techniques promoted by our project will prove useful both in the process of formal education and life experience after its completion. Presently, this is a highly valued skill, because ‘achieving longer working lives will also require the ability to acquire and develop new skills throughout a lifetime’ according to the European Commission’s document: Europe 2020.