Assessing Classroom Performance of Pre-service English Language Teachers in Oman
Embargoed until: 2019-03-06
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In recent times, more attention has been directed towards identifying international trends and ‘best’ practice for assessing pre-service teachers’ classroom performance. Previous attempts to assess Oman’s preservice teachers were based on adopting a psychometric/measurement assessment practice, whereby performance was measured by grades. Such an approach, in recent times, has been viewed as being fundamentally flawed in its attempts to measure pre-service teachers’ classroom practices. This is primarily due to its inability to authentically assess teacher’s learning in the classroom setting. Further underpinning this problem, is that Omani pre-service teachers are expected to undertake an International English Language Testing System (commonly referred to as IELTS), as a measurement of their English proficiency. This approach is problematic, in principle, as it is positioned after graduation and therefore forms no connection to the pre-service teachers’ school experience nor does it add to quality teaching and assessment. This recent shift in thinking, as to the idea that educational assessment should be based on psychometric measurements and grades, has evolved into assessment practices which encourage the integration of assessment into the learning and teaching environment. This thesis is concerned with how the pre-service English Language teacher’s classroom performance is assessed in Oman. Drawing on the work of Gipps (1999, 2002), this thesis adopted a sociocultural perspective to investigate the phenomenon of assessment practices associated with evaluating pre-service teacher’s classroom performance during school-based professional experience (also known as teaching practicum). Understanding assessment practices from a sociocultural perspective and its current practices such as authentic assessment and Assessment for Learning (AfL) assists pre-service teachers to learn so as to become professional, qualified teachers. To achieve the aims of this study, the thesis adopted a qualitative hermeneutic phenomenology approach to investigate the assessment phenomenon and to gain a deep understanding from the key stakeholders involved in the phenomenon. To enable this, the data collected from three higher education institutions, namely Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Rustaq-College of Applied Sciences (CAS) and Nizwa University and their participating schools. A range of different data sources obtained: assessment texts which position pre-service English Language teachers; three-series of interviews with the different stakeholders: three pre-service teachers, three cooperating teachers and four university supervisors to reveal their experiences; and observing the phenomenon in situ to triangulate with the aforementioned data. Implementing hermeneutic phenomenology, the obtained data analysed using two approaches: Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) so that the existing practices for assessing pre-service English language teachers’ classroom performance in Oman were captured. The analyses revealed that each institution has its assessment practices influenced by its socio-political structure, yet SQU, unlike Rustaq-CAS and Nizwa University, is distinguished in relation to its pre-determined set of professional standards for graduating teachers; explicit assessment criteria that are shared and discussed with pre-service teachers; collaboration between all stakeholders in the assessment process; a clearly defined role for the cooperating teacher as mentor; effective feedback provided to the pre-service teacher; using portfolios to record and document the pre-service teachers achievements; and effective self- and peer-assessment strategies. These practices are mostly experienced by stakeholders at SQU due to its international accreditation under the influence of the standards based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The findings suggest that SQU assessment practices are more aligned with the indicators of international best practice, compared to that of Rustaq-CAS and Nizwa University. Similarly, SQU had a better understanding of assessment practices from a sociocultural perspective. This means that within the context of assessing pre-service teachers’ classroom performance in Oman, the findings are not about each higher education institution but about producing quality teacher graduates by reforming the Omani assessment practices. Having SQU as a model in Oman, the key recommendations for policy and practice from this study are to: 1) set a national professional standards for teachers; 2) have explicit assessment criteria that align with the professional standards; 3) share the assessment criteria for success between all stakeholders in the phenomenon; 4) strengthen the collaboration between schools and universities as well as university supervisors and cooperating teachers,5) make the role of the portfolio more explicit in terms of monitoring and enhancing pre-service teacher development and learning; 6) empower the cooperating teacher to provide a more meaningful mentoring role to pre-service teachers; 7) provide explicit training in effective peer and self-assessment strategies for pre-service teachers in the classroom context and 8) provide explicit training in understanding and delivering quality feedback on classroom performance for all stakeholders.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School Educ & Professional St
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English language teachers