The assessment of English in two Norwegian upper secondary schools: A comparative study
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- Master's theses (HF-IKS) 
This thesis examines how two upper secondary schools in Norway approach the assessment of English at the first year level. It aims at comparing the teachers’ and pupils’ attitudes to, beliefs and experiences of assessment in the two schools. One of the schools is an experimental school with a ‘whole school’ project in connection with assessment, in which teachers engage in sub-projects involving applying formative assessment methods. The other school is a control school offering a similar range of courses without a whole school approach. The data was primarily collected through the use of teacher and pupil focus group interviews. Assessment is one of the fundamental tasks in teaching. One of the main distinctions discussed in the thesis is between formative and summative assessment. Assessment is especially relevant with the current new reform ῾Assessment for learning᾿, initiated by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, which emphasizes formative assessment. The aim is to implement the reform in schools and it will be evaluated in 2014. This thesis contributes to the evaluation through a case study of how two schools have approached the assessment of English in the reform period. Several recent Norwegian research projects into assessment show that teaching pupils about meta-cognitive aspects of learning and learning strategies is important for developing self-regulated learners. Studies also show that many teachers are positive to national assessment policies and are relatively updated on what assessment for learning entails. School owners are predominantly concerned with reliability and delegate the responsibility of ensuring validity to the individual schools and teachers. Consequently, there are large differences between the way schools implement the national assessment guidelines. In both schools of this study there was more focus on writing than oral assessment and oral assessment primarily related to giving oral presentations. However, the experimental school put the pupils’ learning in focus with regard to assessment through its ῾whole school᾿ project. The project was approved by the teachers and led to a positive and constructive change in their attitudes to and practices of assessment. The project provided a common language for teachers to discuss and relate to assessment. Feedback to help pupils develop their oral and writing skills was very important. However, the pupils at this school did not ῾feel᾽ the change to the same extent, and mostly still thought in terms of grades. They did not seem to have the same understanding of assessment and the possible advantages of formative assessment as the teachers had. The teachers in the control school, in contrast, emphasized giving their pupils grades. They had no common approach to ῾Assessment for learning᾽, even though they were familiar with its principles. In fact they sometimes applied assessment methods which they knew were not optimal for helping the pupils’ learning. According to the teachers, this was due to practical issues concerning organizational challenges. However, in this school, the pupils seemed more informed and reflected about the assessment methods the teachers applied, and why, than their peers in the experimental school, possibly because they were more ambitious.
Master's thesis in Literacy studies