Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

The Functions of Reflection in High-Stakes Assessment of World Language Teacher Candidates

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

The Functions of Reflection in High-Stakes Assessment of World Language Teacher Candidates

Article excerpt


This case study investigated the development of the reflective writing of a K-12 Spanish teaching candidate, Jena, during her yearlong certification program and preparation of the edTPA portfolio (Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity [SCALE], 2013). Broadly speaking, reflective writing has long played a critical role in the development of teachers (e.g., Burton & Carroll, 2001; Burton, Quirke, Reichmann, & Peyton, 2009; Casanave, 2011), both in the second/foreign language context, in which this work was carried out, and across teacher preparation programs in general (e.g., Clar^a, 2014; Hatton & Smith, 1995; Reiman, 1999). Current teacher preparation ards call sophisticated reflection on the planning, instruction, assessment, and fessional experiences of developing teacher candidates for the purposes of program completion (ACTFL, 2013) and, in certain states, licensure (SCALE, 2013). In addition, successful completion of the edTPA assessment experience requires that candidates demonstrate "abilities to develop academic language and to analyze teaching" (SCALE, 2013, p. 1).

However, initial informal analyses of the reflective writing samples that were collected from Jena and the members of her cohort during program coursework that was offered during summer 2013, at the beginning of the yearlong program in world language education, indicated that should candidates have been assessed using edTPA rubrics (SCALE, 2013), their responses would have been rated as underdeveloped. Specifically, candidates avoided the stated task and reproduced personal, informal reflections. To better prepare candidates for their final performance assessments, it was clear that formal instruction in reflective writing, including a clear description and deconstruction of the specific type of writing that is valued in the edTPA tasks, was critical to candidates' success.

This analysis of both Jena's developing awareness and her ability to write in the reflective genre that is valued in the edTPA illustrates one approach to helping candidates to understand the important, but fundamentally distinctive, contribution of personal reflection while developing the critical reflection skills and academic language that are needed for success in this performance assessment. Specifically, first, our approach created space for teacher candidates to process in spoken and written language their "lived experience" (van Manen, 1990) as developing teachers through personal private reflection (PPR). Second, the writing pedagogy highlighted the linguistic and organizational features of critical academic reflection (CAR) and differentiated it from PPR. Third, the approach enabled candidates to differentiate between the social functions of each type of writing (Martin & Rose, 2008) and use each one appropriately for that function. The present study built on recent exploratory research on the performance of world language teacher candidates on the edTPA (Hildebrandt & Swanson, 2014) and also supported one of the research priorities of the ACTFL (Glisan & Donato, 2012; Hildebrandt & Swanson, 2014).

Theoretical Framework

Systemic Functional Linguistics and Genre Theory

Systemic functional linguistics (SFL; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2013) and genre theory (Martin & Rose, 2008) were used to frame the pedagogical intervention, as well as the present study, a contrastive analysis of PPR and CAR. The pedagogy focused on "providing information about the development of effective texts for particular purposes, and providing it at the point of need within the context of real, purposeful language use" (Derewianka, 1991, p. 5). This perspective on genre is informed by SFL, a theory of language use in context (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2013). Using this linguistic theory, scholars in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Sydney, Australia conducted longitudinal research in the Sydney public schools that systematically identified and described the genres of the school curriculum (Christie & Derewianka, 2008; Derewianka & Jones, 2012). …

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