An exploration of formative assessment that can support ELL adult students in New Zealand.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
Assessment methods for adult English language learners (ELL) are integral parts of the learning cycle. For assessment to promote learning and inform teaching, better understanding the students’ perspectives of effective assessment methods is critical. When ELL students have access to quality teaching, curriculum and assessment, they are more likely to become motivated to improve English language learning, and reach their full potential. Adopting contextually relevant formative assessment approaches in adult ELL education can enhance learning the English in authentic situations. However, some types of assessment related issues may hinder learning and cause students frustration. This qualitative study explores adult ELL students’ perceptions of formative assessment strategies that support their learning. It aims to identify effective formative assessment practices in adult ELL classrooms. Data was collected using several observations of two ELL classrooms, two semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire with a range of adult ELL students. The two interviews were conducted with a group of fourteen adult ELL students who came from different backgrounds and ethnicities. The study uncovered some effective strategies that could be implemented to enhance English language learning when using formative assessment. These include maintaining a positive atmosphere, using a variety of formative assessments, along with acknowledging individual and cultural differences. These were identified by the adult students as major factors that can affect their English language learning. Results also indicated that using formative assessment is a valued means to enhance ELL adult students’ English language learning. However, some students stressed the importance of practising summative assessment as well as formative assessment. The effectiveness of formative assessment, according to students’ perceptions, is associated with enhancing a positive atmosphere and being motivated and valued as individuals. Additionally, my research findings suggest the need for professional development in the use of contextually related formative assessment practices as a means of ongoing assessment for adult English language learners.