FAB – Formative Assessment Benchmarking for Foreign Language Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
From October 23 to October 28, 2016 the Centre for Foreign Language Teaching, the University of Warsaw, hosted a visit of six foreign guests. Robert Märcz and Erika Berkics from Pescu University (Hungary), Katriina Vesanen and Pirjo Kavander from Turku Technical University (Finland), and Daiva Pundziuviene and Jurate Andrucieviskiene from Vytautas Magnus University in Kowno (Lithuania) took part in the peer observations of foreign language classes as a part of the first series of the Peer Observations FAB programme.
As a reminder, each of the project partners delegates two teachers who spend one week observing classes in one of the academic centres. The aim of this activity is the exchange of good practice. Its goal is also to observe to what extent evaluative assessment is used in the language classes, what effects it brings, and what the teachers and students think about it. In a wider perspective the purpose of peer observations is to acquaint the teachers with the specifics of foreign language teaching in a given country and the country’s educational system (in particular university education system), as well as to learn about challenges and problems facing foreign language teaching sector.
The University of Warsaw which is a project leader initiated the activity by inviting six foreign guests in the last week of October.
The observers visited 71 classes of 8 different languages, led by 23 teachers. [see pictures – link provided].
After each observed class the teachers filled report forms [link]. The following conclusions were drawn by the observers in almost all the classes:
- creating a friendly atmosphere
- building student’s autonomy
- interesting techniques used during classes
- student’s interest in the subject
- student’s involvement in the learning process
- monitoring student’s progress
- the use of interesting and varied teaching techniques
- friendly attitude towards a student
The report contains a designated part for an in-depth description of innovative, interesting and most of all effective teaching techniques involving evaluative assessment. In the future these particular examples of exercises which are universal to all languages and different language learning levels will be included in the so-called “self-study guide” for teachers and students, which will be the final result of the common intellectual work during the whole FAB project. The guide will be presented at a conference concluding the project activities.
The observers also noted some additional elements which were typical of evaluative assessment approach and which regularly (however not always) appeared during the classes:
- goal setting
- elements of self-evaluation and peer evaluation
- encouraging self-reflection
- working in groups / pairs
- giving feedback (in particular positive feedback)
- making certain that a student understands the given material
Many times the guests emphasised a very friendly approach of teachers towards students, a friendly atmosphere, and also the fact that the teachers put a lot of effort in preparing and teaching the classes, as well as their energy and cheerful attitude. According to the observers the students are open-minded, creative, hardworking, and they express their opinions freely – they are not afraid of teacher’s or group’s reactions to their views. They do not hesitate to ask questions, to ask for examples or re-explanation of the topic. They are aware of their rights and duties, they participate actively in classes and majority of them are well prepared. They are strongly motivated to learn.
We encourage you to read the reports from the first series of Peer Observations programme.
- FINNISH REPORTS | Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS), Finland | [view]
- HUNGARIAN REPORT | University of Pécs, Hungary [view]
- LITHUANIAN REPORTS | Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania | [view]