The interplay between informal and formal assessment in grade 9 English first additional language
Learning and assessment are inextricably intertwined, since assessment not only measures learning, but future learning is also dependent on assessment. The purpose of this two phase sequential mixed-methods study was to examine the interplay between informal and formal assessment in Grade 9 EFAL classrooms in order to gain a better understanding of teachers’ assessment practises. Argued from a constructivist point of view, the study endorses continuous assessment (CASS), which balances informal and formal assessment. In order to direct the study towards the stated purpose, the researcher embarked on a literature study to contextualise English as First Additional Language against the background of educational developments in South Africa since 1994 and to examine assessment of English First Additional Language in an OBE framework. The literature study was followed by an empirical study. By applying a sequential mixed-methods research design, 66 conveniently sampled EFAL teachers in the Johannesburg-North District of the Gauteng Department of Education participated in the quantitative phase of the empirical study. By means of a survey as strategy of inquiry, these teachers completed a questionnaire. Six randomly selected teachers from the initial sample participated in the qualitative phase of the empirical study which followed a case study strategy of inquiry and consisted of individual interviews and observations. The empirical research findings revealed that the sampled teachers experienced the official Departmental documents as regulatory, overwhelming and ambiguous and that they gave more attention to formal assessment than informal assessment. Due to this emphasis on formal assessment, the teachers felt uncertain about the purposes of informal assessment which, as a consequence, was considered as less important than formal assessment. A preference of conventional assessment methods was also disclosed which implied that the sampled teachers were not willing to experiment with alternative assessment methods. In conclusion, the researcher discovered that although CASS was implemented in the sampled teachers’ classrooms, learner-centred teaching founded on constructivism with the aim of encouraging scaffolding, was not high on the teachers’ teaching agendas.
- Education 
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