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Title: Authenticity and the assessment of modern foreign language learning : the problems of designing authentic tasks and devising and applying criteria for moderated assessment and evaluation in the examinations of the International Baccalaureate for Modern Foreign Languages
Author: Israel, John Black
ISNI:       0000 0001 3587 4865
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2003
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Notions of authenticity often determine aims in communicative language teaching and learning. This research describes and develops theories of authenticity in assessing and evaluating such activity. Concepts are defined for mapping and exploring the International Baccalaureate Organisation's Diploma Programme for Group 2 Languages. The empirical focus is Language B, Standard Level, a programme for intermediate foreign-language learners. Attention is paid to formal assessment in listening and speaking, reading and writing in French. It includes the delineation of boundaries, investigation of rubrics, design of tasks and their standardisation, language use in criterion-referenced assessment, with the moderation and evaluation of results by grades. In measuring performance, 'target' language communication is investigated, insofar as definable and assessable through reference to authenticity. Commonly-used theoretical and practical categorisations emerge as subjective, imprecise and contestable. Three methods are employed to identify, describe and understand the programme, together with the language use it entails. They provide complementary perspectives for conceptualising authenticity. First, samples of IBO documentation are analysed for illuminating theory. Understandings are developed and refined through observation of the programme in practice. Alternately, constraints on learner participation in assessed language-production for authentic communication are examined. Influential in any situation, they appear particularised in 'high-stakes' evaluation. Understandings are also derived from analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, sampled from a range of formal assessment sessions and manipulated experimentally. Responses to specific tasks are scrutinised. Through developing criteria for identifying, analysing and evaluating language-based authenticity from this data, the research seeks: • to assess validity in devising standardised tasks for authentic language use within set rubrics; • reliably to correlate qualitative, criterion-referenced assessments with quantitative evaluation; • to determine regularity in grading significant qualities of formally-assessed language; • better to understand authenticity as a concept for guiding these aims; • to identify theory and practice that distinguish the programme researched as a view of pedagogy and learning, through investigation of its products. The research offers description, analysis and critique of programme planning, administration and outcomes. Its conclusions indicate authenticity as conceptually viable for assessing language use. Without decreasing reliability, construct validity may be enhanced. Anomalies previously found 'difficult to assess', are reduced in incidence and the fit improved between programme philosophy and practice. Through measuring task-based language for authenticity in determinate settings, evaluation verdicts may be more consistently and explicitly justified, enhancing the potential credibility of the given programme amongst its users.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral