FAB – Formative Assessment Benchmarking for Foreign Language Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
From November 28 to December 3, 2016 Turku University of Applied Sciences (Finland) hosted a visit of six foreign guests. Robert Märcz and Réka Lugosy from University of Pécs (Hungary), Gintarė Gelūnaitė-Malinauskienė and Almantė Meškauskienė from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas (Lithuania) as well as Anna Sworowska and Magdalena Ziółek-Wojnar from University of Warsaw (Poland) took part in peer observations of foreign language classes as part of the second series of the FAB Peer Observations programme. The University of Warsaw (the project leader) initiated the activity by inviting six foreign guests in the last week of October 2016.
The observers visited 60 classes of English, German, Swedish and Russian, both for general and specific (mostly vocational) purposes. 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
- giving detailed and constructive feedback
- providing appropriate pedagogical and language scaffolding
- integrating language and content (CLIL)
- involving students in the learning process
- using mother tongue in foreign language teaching
- using interesting and varied teaching techniques
The report contains a designated part for an in-depth description of innovative, interesting and most of all effective teaching techniques involving evaluative and formative 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 formative assessment approach and which regularly appeared during the classes:
- goal setting
- elements of self-evaluation and peer evaluation
- encouraging self-reflection
- working in groups / pairs
- giving detailed feedback
- making certain that a student understands the given material
Very often the observers emphasized the quality of feedback given by the Finnish teachers. The information received by the students concerning their performance was very constructive. The teachers primarily focused on positive aspects of students’ performance, concentrating among others on non-linguistic elements such as posture, tone of voice, speaker’s enthusiasm when assessing for example oral presentations. The students’ shortcomings were not criticized, yet the areas for improvement were indicated and different helping tips/strategies were prompted.
Moreover, it should be noted that the observed foreign language classes were embedded into meaningful contexts related to the students’ professional backgrounds (business communication, information technology, physiotherapy), which enabled them to study practical, job-related linguistic and non-linguistic skills.
Please find below detailed reports on the second series of peer observations held at Turku University of Applied Sciences:
- HUNGARIAN REPORTS | University of Pécs, Hungary | [view]
- LITHUANIAN REPORT | Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania | [view]
- POLISH REPORT | University of Warsaw, Poland | [view]