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Title: The impact of formative assessment on young English learners' motivation and achievement in China
Author: Zhang, J.
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2018
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Formative assessment (FA) has been a popular topic of study in education since the 1990s (Black & Wiliam, 1998a; 1998b). In China, the New English Curriculum for primary education in 2011 stressed the importance of FA in language classes (Ministry of Education, 2011). However, empirical studies investigating FA in China are generally lacking (Liu & Xu, 2017). My concern lies in the use and the impact of FA in English language learning in primary schools in China. In that context, this study seeks to identify and scrutinise effective FA strategies that can motivate learners and improve their achievement. The relevance of FA to English language learning lies in its interactive and dynamic approach, aimed at improving learners’ English by offering different strategies for enhancing learning. The FA strategies in my study include sharing learning aims, feedback, questioning, peer-assessment and self-assessment. They were selected from previous works on FA frameworks (Heritage, 2009a, 2009b, 2010; Torrance & Pryor, 2001; Wiliam & Thompson, 2007). I summarised seven motivation theories and three motivation frameworks in language learning (Dörnyei, 1994; Williams & Burden, 1997; Dörnyei & Ottó, 1998) in order to draw up a new framework of motivation in language learning that can be applied in this study. Mixed methods were used. Data were gathered via quantitative questionnaires for learners exploring motivation, use of FA and attitudes towards FA; quantitative English language quizzes to measure student achievement during the fieldwork; and qualitative interviews with teachers and students regarding their perceptions of FA. Two teachers and 196 11-year-old students from four classes in Jiangsu Province in China took part in the study for two and a half months. The results showed that FA strategies have valuable application in this context notwithstanding the prevailing exam-oriented education culture in China. FA use was significantly positively correlated with students’ motivation and achievement, strikingly so in girls in the lower achievement bracket. There is a need for well differentiated FA due to the varied impact of FA strategies in different student groups. As a lighthouse, FA is not merely an assessment in class, but also a learning habit that guides both teacher and student in teaching and learning. With the findings, this thesis contributes an empirical research study in English of the impact of FA in an underrepresented education sector: primary education in China.
Supervisor: Herrick, Tim Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available