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2018 Preconference Workshop 1
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A learning-oriented assessment approach in classroom contexts: An expanded conceptualization of performance

Leaders: James E. Purpura and Carolyn E. Turner

The goal of this workshop is to introduce participants to a learning-oriented approach to assessment (LOA) so that this approach can serve as a conceptual framework for the design and validation of summative assessments, as well as a frame of reference for examining assessments embedded in instruction and learning, and at times mediated through classroom discourse.

L2 assessments have come in many forms over the years, and have been used by L2 teachers to obtain information on what students have learned, what remains to be learned, and what instruction needs to transpire. Teachers have also dealt with the need to align assessments with large-scale tests external to the classroom (Pellegrino et al., 2001). This has brought about some confusion as classroom-based assessment (CBA) is contextually bound and at times socially constructed, involving several stakeholders. Evidence of learning (or lack thereof) is collected through a repertoire of methods, and used to monitor learning (and teaching) on an ongoing basis. In other words, assessment is more a resource for learning than a means of judgment. While CBA can overlap with the methods used in standardized tests in many ways, most CBAs are assessment without tests, where teachers are concerned with integrating instruction and assessment to support learning. External standardized tests, on the other hand, are not designed to promote such integration.

Such circumstances have contributed to a growing interest by testers in the importance and uniqueness of the classroom as the nexus for teaching, learning and assessment. However, only in the late 1990s, did researchers start studying the role of assessment in classroom settings (Turner, 2012), and only more recently, was CBA considered a different paradigm of assessment (James, 2006; Moss, 1996), with a need for a unified system across external tests, curriculum and pedagogy (Cumming, 2009; Hudson, 2012).

Within this setting, Purpura and Turner (forthcoming) have proposed a learning-oriented assessment approach to assessment in which multiple dimensions of the assessment context converge to address synergies among assessment, instruction, and learning; that is, where performance moderators are taken into consideration as they are related to instruction and learning in both construct-relevant and irrelevant ways. How the LOA framework can be used in the construction and interpretation of assessments will be the focus of this workshop.

Day 1:
- Explore why a broader conceptualization of the assessment process is needed.
- Situate LOA within the assessment literature.
- Describe the dimensions of the LOA framework using a classroom test (contextual, elicitation & evidence, proficiency, socio-cognitive, instructional, affective, social-interactional).
- Analyze the design and results of an online test (the wetlands experience), in which instruction and learning have been embedded into the assessment. (To gain first-hand experience with this type of assessment, participants will be asked to take this test before the workshop.)
- Discuss how assessments can be constructed from a learning orientation, and examine examples from a variety of learner groups.

Day 2:
- Explore LOA as an organizing framework for examining assessments embedded in instruction and learning, and at times, mediated through classroom discourse.
- Use a modified conversation-analytic approach to examine assessment episodes in transcript data and examine how the framework can highlight different dimensions of the data, providing insights for how assessment relates to instruction and learning.
- Examine examples from varying age groups
- Work on adapting/designing assessments for your specific contexts.


Professor James E. Purpura is Professor of Linguistics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he teaches courses in L2 assessment and research methods. His research focuses on grammar and pragmatics assessment, cognition and L2 assessment, learning-oriented assessment (LOA), scenario-based assessment (SBA), and L2 test validation. In addition to numerous articles and chapters, Jim has written Strategy use and L2 test performance (1999, CUP), Assessing grammar (2004, CUP), and is currently co-authoring a book on LOA in L2 classrooms (Routledge) and a book on the collection of the works of Lyle Bachman. Jim is the co-editor of Language Assessment Quarterly, co-editor of the series, New Perspectives in Language Assessment (Routledge), and co-editor of the series, Language Assessment at ETS: Innovation and Validation (Routledge). He served as President of ILTA (2007 & 2008), as member of the TOEFL Committee of Examiners, and currently serves on the U.S. Defense Language Testing Advisory Panel. He was recently a Fulbright Scholar in Siena, Italy, where he worked on an LOA approach to scenario-based assessments. Jim is co-founder of LOA Solutions Inc., which provides a platform for Internet and mobile phone delivery of assessments that enable rapid iteration and artificial intelligence to improve design, authenticity, efficiency, and feedback.

Carolyn E. Turner has been Associate Professor of Second Language Education in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. Her courses focused on classroom assessment, language testing and research methods. In December 2015 she retired from McGill. She currently continues to be active in research and service to her professional community. Her research examines language testing/assessment in educational and healthcare settings. More recently, her focus has also been on learning-oriented assessment (LOA) in classroom contexts. She is co-authoring a book with James Purpura on LOA where they examine the potential of learning as integrated into assessments and how assessments serve learning when embedded in teaching. Carolyn served as President of ILTA (2009 & 2010); was Associate Editor of the journal of Language Assessment Quarterly from its inception up until 2012, remains on its Editorial Advisory Board; and was a founding member of the Canadian Association for Language Assessment/Association canadienne d’évaluation des langues. She has worked with organizations concerning high-stakes testing issues: for example, the TOEFL Committee of Examiners (ETS); the Test Advisory Panel for Paragon Testing Enterprises; International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Aviation English Language Test Service (AELTS), and the Quebec Ministry of Education. Her publications are in journals such as Language Testing, Language Assessment Quarterly, TESOL Quarterly, Canadian Modern Language Review and Health Communication, and chapters in edited collections. In addition, Carolyn has valued supervising graduate students and mentoring young faculty. She is encouraged by their increasing involvement and presence in the international language testing/assessment community.

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