Professor Stephen Stoynoff’s Keynote Speech: Classroom Assessment

Ganga Ram Gautam

stoynoff

Prof. Stoynoff in his keynote address during 19th NELTA International Conference held in Kathmandu on Feb 27, discussed his professional journey in the field of language assessment using a “trekking” metaphor as part of an anecdote from his Nepal visit long time ago.

The highlights of the message that he conveyed through the metaphor were:

a) a beginning is always exciting but not easy

b) we need to understand the challenges and put every effort to face them in order to get to the next level

c) we must understand the significance of our endeavor in the work that we do

d) we should not give up but try various alternatives so that we might find a better way for addressing the challenges and issues

Describing the various landscapes of language assessment in the last few decades, Prof. Stoynoff shared about two key orientations, namely, the psychometric perspectives and socio-cultural perspectives, which have influenced language assessment. Highlighting the key features of these perspectives, he also talked about the shifts that have taken place in the area of assessment along with the changes in the curriculum and materials in English language teaching and learning.

Drawing on the principles and practices of the socio-cultural perspective in language assessment, he elaborated alternative approaches to language assessment and how these approaches address the issue of ‘authenticity’ in language assessment. The key message that Prof. Stoynoff delivered during his presentation was that it is the teacher who is chiefly responsible for selecting the appropriate assessment and in many cases developing them, administering them properly, interpreting the results correctly and using results responsibly. He advised the teachers to be more attentive to the purposes and practices associated with assessment and their impact on students’ learning and their teaching. Thus, he highlighted the term “Assessment Literate” as the key that every teacher should be aware of.

As concluding remarks, Prof. Stoynoff said:

a) Set ambitious goals

b) Persist in important endeavors

c) Periodically gauge your progress and recognize changes in the professional landscape

d) Prepare for the challenges that are ahead

The presentation was both academic and practical and participants enjoyed it thoroughly. The uptake of the presentation was that the best way to keep abreast with the new trends and development in the professional field that one is engaged is through continuous professional development.

Ganga Ram Gautam
Reader in English Education,
Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal, Tribhuvan University
Executive Member (Immediate Past President), Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA)

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