Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Dynamic Assessment on Iranian Intermediate Efl Learner's Narrative Performance

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Dynamic Assessment on Iranian Intermediate Efl Learner's Narrative Performance

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Traditionally, assessment is defined as a 'means fo controllong the context in which language performane takes place' (Bachman 1990). Cohen (1980) offers three purposes of assessment: administrative, instructional, and research-driven. Within the administrative realm, assessment may serve to place students in appropriate class levels, provide an exemption for completing a certain or hasten a promotion. An assessment that has an instructional purpose is one that shows evidence of student progress and gives feedback to the test-taker. In a classroom in which the tacher implements DA, instruction and assessment occur simultaneously.

Based on the sociocultural Theory (SCT) of mind originated from the Russian psychologist LevVgotsky's ideas, DA researchers claim that dialectical interration of instruction and assesssment into a dynamic activity will bring successful education. This requires sensitivity to the learners' Zon of Proximal development (ZPD) during the assessment proceduress which is achieved through the mediators' intervention in terms of providing hints, prompts, and feedbacks. While the results of traditional non-dynamic assessment (NDA) can only show the already existent abilities of the student, the analysis of ZPD makes it possible to evaluate the ability of the students to learn from the interaction with a teacher or a more capable peer and predict their possible future developments.

2. DYNAMIC ASSESSMENT AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS

Dynamic assessment (DA) as a concept originates from Vygotsky (1978) and Feuerstein (1979). In Vygotsky's model of cognitive development, children's learning takes place in the zone of proximal development (ZPD) during social interaction. The ZPD is based on the premise that a child's unassisted performance during a task can be enhanced when guided assistance is given by an adult. Feuerstein's theory of mediate learning experience (MLE) consists of a formal educational process where an adult tries to enhance the child's performance. According to Feuerstein, the mediated interactions promoted a higher mental functioning in a child.

The goal of DA is to modify learners' performance level in order to enable the mediators not only to understand individual learners' current level of abilities but to predict their unassisted potential future abilities based on their present performance. In dynamic assessment, examiners become an active part of the assessment. Examiners observe interpret observations in order to change and reveal learning. This approach focuses on the learning process. During mediated learning, examiners focus on how children solve problems and how they learn. Observations reveal information about children's learning strategies and the amount of effort required for learning new skills.

DA can be better understood when contrasted with static assessment (SA). The sharp difference between DA and SA is that DA focuses on the learning process, whereas SA focuses on the results of learning. In SA, which is usually done for summative purposes, any kind of interaction or assisstance during the assessment is considered unacceptable. In fact, interaction and assistance of any kind could be seen as being unfair or even cheating. In particular, changes in the learners' performance during the assessment process are considered threats to the reliability of test scores. However, DA adopts a different stance and maintains that important information about a learner's ability can only be obtained by offering assisstance during the assessment.

2.1 CLINICALLY-ORIENTED VERSUS RESEARCH-ORIENTED DA

The broad practice of DA has evolved and diverged into two separate strands of study:

Clinically-oriented DA and research-oriented DA. Clinically-oriented DA began as an educational treatment or intervention. Its most common operationalization is Feuerstein's Learning Potential Assessment Device (LPAD). The LPAD is a nonstandardized method of assessing and teaching cognitive deficiencies in children with learning problems. …

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