4. Assessment

This course prioritises formative assessment and qualitative feedback that encourages learners to experiment, take risks and learn from mistakes as well as successes. Formative assessment helps to:

  • give teachers direct feedback of the learning process in the given context and to adapt learning and teaching approaches to make them more effective,
  • highlight any individual or group deficiencies and provide remedial support immediately,
  • emphasise learning processes in order to promote self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation,
  • counteract the effects of summative assessment and the focus on grades and the negative impact of extrinsic motivation (negative washback),
  • develop learners’ metacognitive awareness of how they learn,
  • fine-tune learning activities through frequent, ongoing assessment and a focus on learners’ progress.

Individual self-assessment

Learners self-assess by using the CEFR Can do statements for the appropriate proficiency level, e.g. B1, B1+, B2, B2+, C1, C1+ and C2. Learners complete the self-assessment, identify areas of strength and weakness and possibly set learning targets for themselves. They keep this assessment in their learning journals for reference for personal reflection on their progress in English acquisition. In this way, the emphasis is on formative rather than summative assessment.


Learners collaborate to create an assessment rubric by examining example blog articles. They use this rubric to assess each others’ blog articles during peer-assessment sessions after publication. This contributes to a group mark. Individual members of a group should also be assessed on their participation and contribution to the article.

Assessment by teachers

Learners usually expect assessment and/or feedback from their teacher. One approach is for the teacher to write down any assessments before the peer-assessment sessions so that assessor learners can compare their assessments to the teacher’s. This can promote discussions on any differences in what learners and teachers value and can lead to collaborative sharing of ideas and values, and learners gaining a greater understanding of what constitutes fluent, complex and accurate language production.

Useful links

Beford J., Washback – the Effect of Assessment on ESOL Teaching and Learning

Sadler P. M. (2006) Good E, The Impact of Self- and Peer-Grading on Student Learning

Reed D. (2006) Diagnostic Assessment in Language Teaching and Learning (CLEAR)