Number one for English language teachers

TKT: Performance assessment

Type: Article

In the eleventh article in this series, Kay Bentley highlights the benefits of performance assessment and provides examples of where it can be applied.

Performance assessment is assessment which involves learners in actively demonstrating their knowledge of content and language, e.g. as they explain the process of product designs or their ability to communicate only content, for example, doing a sequence of dance movements in Physical Education classes. Teachers observe and assess learners’ performance using specific criteria. Performance assessment is contextualized so it is meaningful for learners and can involve individuals, pairs or groups of learners. As CLIL promotes task-based learning, it is appropriate that learners have opportunities to be assessed by showing what they know and what they can do. By assessing performance during a range of different task types, teachers can evaluate progress and also evaluate any support which might be needed for learners to complete the tasks.

But performance assessment is more than evaluation of content and language; it can be used to evaluate development of communicative and cognitive skills as well as attitudes towards learning. ‘Performance assessment should be dynamic, in the sense that it should find out what the student can do with or without the help of the teacher.’ (Garcia, 2009)

Examples of performance assessment of knowledge and abilities can be found in all subjects across the curriculum. These include:

  • painting using different media (art)
  • delivering PowerPoint presentations (ICT and most other subjects)
  • role-playing (history and literacy)
  • reporting on group experiments (science)
  • interpreting maps, diagrams and photographs (geography)
  • debating the pros and cons of renewable energies (environment)

In all these examples the focus is on the process of learning, as performance tasks often have more than one solution. The process usually involves higher order thinking skills such as cause and effect, reasoning, creative thinking, evaluating and problem-solving.

Knowledge of performance assessment is tested in Part 2 of TKT: CLIL as a type of assessment used in CLIL.

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