Assessing student in English for academic purposes: The role of alternative assessment tools in writing instruction
Hamakali, Hafeni Pamwenase Shikalepo
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This study aims to investigate the assessment of students in the English for Academic Purposes course at the University of Namibia Language Centre. There has been increasing criticism of standardised test and examinations and it has brought into question the value of other indirect approaches to language assessment (Reeves, 2000; Sharifi, & Hassaskhah, 2011; Tsagari, 2004). The study draws its theoretical foundation from the constructivist’s view of education (Canagarajah, 1999; Schunk, 2009; Vygotsky, 1962). The study embraces the interpretivist approach to research which tends to be more qualitative, and is open to diverse ways that people may understand and experience the same non-manipulated objective reality. The participants in this study are students and lecturers of the English for Academic Purposes course at the University of Namibia Language Centre. The study employs a qualitative research design, along with triangulation, where qualitative data was collected through lecturer interviews, lesson observations, multiple intelligence inventory, and student focus groups discussions. The study adapted the thematic approach of data analysis where the data were analysed and presented under themes derived from the research questions of the study. The findings indicate that, there was a limited stock of assessments that suits the classification of alternative assessment, namely: checklists, student-lecturer question techniques, and academic essay. The findings reveal some factors that influence the integration of alternative assessment in academic writing instruction, such as: lecturers and students’ knowledge of assessment, students’ assessment preferences, authenticity, classroom setup, and feedback. The findings also showed that the assessment practices that were used by the lecturers did not seem to fulfil the ideologies advocated in Gardener’s (1984) theory of Multiple Intelligences. However, the study found that the students and lecturers’ attitude which was skewed towards the positive direction may be an indication that there could be hope for success in attempts to integrate alternative assessment in academic writing instruction.