AD's English Literature : Providing feedback to an English Test in Classroom Situation

Providing feedback to an English Test in Classroom Situation



Providing feedback to an English test in classroom situation is one of the most important purposes of English testing. From the feedback the learner can get a chance to modify and develop. S/he gets a chance of self-correction and thus to learn effectively.(not learning)
In the context of teaching in general, feedback is information that is given to the learner about his or her performance of a learning task, usually with the objective of improving the performance.
Some examples in language teaching may be like — the words ‘Yes, right !‘, said to a learner who has answered a question ; a grade of 70% on an exam; a raised eyebrow in response to a mistake in grammar ; comments written in the margin of an essay.
Feedback has two main distinguishable components —

**Assessment and Correction**
In assessment, the learner is simply informed how well or badly he or she has performed. In correction, some specific information is provided on aspects of the learner’s performance such as — through explanation, or provision of better or other alternatives, or through elicitation of these from the learner.
In principle correction should include information on what the learner did right, as well as wrong, and why!
Most of the feedback we give our learners is called ‘formative’, since its main purpose is to ‘form’; to enhance, not conclude, a process.
Let’s take a look at different opinions on giving feedback and correction.
**Correcting Mistakes in Oral Work**
On the whole, we give feedback on oral work through speech, and on written work through writing. There are some situations where we might prefer not to correct a learner’s mistake: in fluency work, for example, when the learner is in mid-speech, and to correct would disturb and discourage more than help. But there are other situations when corrections are likely to be helpful.
Oral corrections are usually — “provided directly by the teacher;
*Elicited from the learner who made the mistake in the first place.
* Elicited from another learner of the class.
In general both positive and negative assessments should be made available to the learner, as honestly as possible; because this is what learners are lacking in.
However, it is essential for such assessments to be given warm atmosphere of support and warm solidarity, so that learners feel that the teacher’s motive is honestly to promote and encourage their learning, not to put them down.
There is certainly a place for correction It contributes to some extent to learning.
Question for further thinking - Can time and energy be invested in creating opportunities for learners to get things right than working on correcting mistakes?
Questions for Discussion for the Teacher:—
1. Do you use a red pen or another colour or a pencil for your comments? Can you account for your choice?
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
1. We usually use coloured pens for corrections, simply in order to make them maximally clear and visible to the learner. We know teachers who use green pens to indicate a less important mistake but we think it makes the job tedious only. When providing feedback on advanced writing (essays, papers, other forms of self-expression) ; we give comments in pencil in order to convey a less authoritative, more diffident message such as ‘I’m suggesting, not telling’.
2. Do you give some kind of assessment at the end (such as ‘Good’ etc.)?Why, or why not?
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
2. We provide an assessing comment on the grammar exercise, in order to let the student know how well we thought he or she had mastered the material.
3. Do you correct all the mistakes? If so why? If not, on what do you base your decision which to correct and which not?
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
3. We correct virtually all the mistakes in the grammar exercise which have to do with the target forms, but ignore most of the others: (to give too much may simply distract, discourage and actually detract from its value for learning.)
4. Do you write in the correct form of those mistakes you have corrected? Do you give a hint what it should be? Do you simply indicate it is wrong? Why?
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
4. We write in full correct forms. (We do not see much value in demanding that students focus again on the wrong form and try to work out what is wrong about it - besides, many of them never bother to do so! We would rather confront them with the acceptable forms as quickly and clearly as possible.
5. Do you note only what is wrong, or do you give some kind of indication of what is right or particularly good?
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
5. Yes. We put in ticks here and there indicating our appreciation or a note such as ‘well expressed’ in the margin. (These responses can draw learners’ attention to their successes, thus boosting morale and reinforcing learning.)
6. Do you provide any kind of informative feedback other than mistake correction and overall assessment, designed to help the student improve? (e.g. ‘this was good because....’, or ‘Take care when you...’)
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
6. Yes. If we can give information that makes students aware of their particular problems and suggest what they might do about them, this is one of the most valuable kinds of feedback we can provide.
7. Do you require the student to re-do any of the assignment? Can you say why, or why not?
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
7. Asking learners to re-do all their corrected work as a routine can be tedious and discouraging. For these exercises we do not require rewriting, though we give another very similar grammar exercise to the one a week or two later, having reviewed what we saw as the main problems. One instance where we do consistently request rewriting is for longer compositions or essays.
Finally, do you re-read your corrections imagining you are the student: what do you think the student will feel about them?
The Common Opinion of   English Teachers
 Again Yes. It gives u-s a chance to get feedback for ourselves.
Corrections may or may not include a clarification of why the mistake was made. Feedback may or may not require re-production of the acceptable form by the learner.
How the correction is expressed is another important aspect of feedback — i.e. gently or assertively, supportively or as a condemnation, tactfully or rudely. However, we should go for encouraging, tactful correction. A good deal of teacher sensitivity is needed here.

Concluding Argument Would you support the recommendation to refrain from correcting during fluency-oriented speech, and to do so only during accuracy-oriented exercises?
The recommendation not to correct a learner during fluent speech is good, but may not be used always. There can be situations where to refrain from providing an acceptable form may be helpful. For instance, where the speaker is obviously uneasy or ‘floundering’, a gentle, supportive intervention can help.
Conversely, even where the emphasis is on appropriateness, we may not always correct  in a grammar exercise. For example, if the learner has contributed an interesting or personal piece of information that does not happen to use the target form. Even when they have got most of an item right we may prefer not to draw attention to a relatively trivial mistake.
Learners’ written work includes not only written compositions, but also assignments on grammar or vocabulary, answers to comprehension questions, English test in classroom situations and so on; and teachers are expected, as part of their job, to respond to such work, providing appropriate (written) feedback.

Ardhendu De

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