Teaching Esl Essay Research Paper OPTIONS IN

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Teaching Esl Essay, Research Paper OPTIONS IN WRITING ASSESSMENT : AN EXPLORATION Introduction I would like to start by raising a few questions : 1st. What direction should assessment of writing take ? 2nd. Should it assess samples of daily work such as a journal entries or portfolio writing? 3rd. Or is the notion of general assessment completely out of synchronization with the mega-trends in education where assessment and response to writing have become revolutionary ? I will attempt to answer these questions as a recommended solution to teachers’ problems on how to assess, evaluate and mark students’ work. Based on my experience as a teacher trainer, I should say that the teaching and subsequent assessment of writing leave much to be desired. Not much change has been

undertaken in terms of approaches and classroom procedures. Might this be due to the fact that some of us teach the way we were taught? That some of us still cling to the age-old beliefs and practices in evaluating, grading and teaching, assessing and responding to student writing? Let me cite some of the practices that most of us language teachers find difficult to do away with : 1. Teacher gives exercises and model paragraphs and essays for students to imitate. If this is all that a teacher does, then she hampers or impedes creativity on the part of the students. 2. Teacher lists a number of topics on the chalkboard, then asks students to choose one and write about it. This is done without so much as a preliminary activity to the actual writing exercise. 3. Teacher prescribes

the exact number of words and the time limit with which to finish a piece of writing. For example, all papers have to be handed in at the end of a 40 or 60-minute period, inclusive of preliminaries such as instructions, number of words, number of paragraphs, etc. 4. Assessment, evaluation and grading are imprecise unsystematic. Teachers usually write marginal comments, which only serve to confuse students. General comments like improve, rephrase, vague, too broad or specify frustrate the students instead of help them. 5. Teacher gives writing assignments, which take time to mark and give back to students, or worse, teacher sometimes fails to return the papers. We were students once and we know how important the teacher’s feedback was. Can we blame our students today if they

become indifferent to their English courses? 6. Teacher corrects all errors, “bleeds” students’ papers to death, figuratively and literally. Red pencilling all over the paper reveals that form, rather than substance, is given more attention. By correcting on form, students tend to turn in papers, which are almost flawless in grammar but lacking in substance. Research in the teaching of writing according to Sommer (1989) reveals that red ink, marginal notes and symbols for correction are generally ineffective in improving student writing. He also says that beginning writers have the misconception that flawless grammars, proper punctuation, correct choice of words, are some of the primary considerations in writing; that “what the teacher wants” is more important than a

student’s developing original ideas; and that writing submitted to the teacher for correction is finished work rather than a stage in the process of improvement and completion. 7. Readership is limited. Students write compositions for their teacher’s eyes only. They do not get the chance to read each other’s work. These are only some of the classroom “malpractices” that confuse and disorient students. How then do English teachers put an end to these seemingly problematic scenarios in their writing classes? Assessment and evaluation are not the sole responsibility of the teacher. Teachers need to make their students realize that their paper is their own property- thus answering the question of ownership. A paper which is “excessively marked and scribbled over” by the