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Dynamic Assessment: Integrating Assessment and Teaching to Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language. Matthew E. Poehner ([email protected]) Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER) The Pennsylvania State University.

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Dynamic Assessment: Integrating Assessment and Teaching to Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language

Matthew E. Poehner ([email protected])Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER) The Pennsylvania State University


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Interaction and L2 Development: Teaching or Assessment? Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language

  • Example -> Taken from Dynamic Assessment in the Foreign Language Classroom: A Teachers Guide (2006), J. P. Lantolf & M. E. Poehner

    • CALPER Project on Dynamic Assessment

  • Background  Advanced Learners of L2 French , Composing Oral Narratives (based on video clips, literary excerpts)

    • Important feature of performance is ability to control verbal tense (past) and aspect (perfective and imperfective)


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L2 Interaction Example: Sara Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language

S: enceinte! Enceinté, uh Samuel Rebecca a dit qu’elle ne comprend pas pourquoi il était enceinte mais la

pregnant! Pregnant, uh Samuel Rebecca said that she doesn’t understand why he was pregnant but the

M: Rebecca a dit? Sorry

S: Rebecca a dit que elle ne sss (...) sa, elle ne sait pas she did not know elle ne sait pas pourquoi

Rebecca said that she doesn’t know she did not know she does not know why

M: Well actually elle ne sait pas is present tense

S: it’s present tense which is wrong

M: because you said she did not know so that would be past tense


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L2 Interaction Example: Sara (cont) Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language

S: the past tense elle ne su pas* that’s wrong (...)

M: were you looking for imparfait or passé composé?

S: (...) it’s imparfait

M: okay so you would use the form of savoir—

S: elle ne savait pas

she didn’t know

M: voilà

S: I forgot it’s savoir, elle ne savait pas pourquoi il il était dans sa situation aussi mais elle était…

she didn’t know why he he was in his situation also but she was…


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Teaching or Assessment? Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language

Assessment-Teaching

  • In Dynamic Assessment, assessment and teaching are integrated as a single activity that seeks to simultaneously understand and promote learners’ abilities through mediated interaction in the Zone of Proximal Development


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L. S. Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Mind Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language

S R

X

  • Higher forms of consciousness – social and cultural mediation


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Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Mind (cont.) Understand and Promote Development in a Second Language

  • Uniquely human higher forms of consciousness (awareness of and control over cognitive functions)

  • Incorrect solution to the problem of the environment

    • Environment is not a backdrop for development but a sourceof development (Vygotsky 1998)

  • Tools – physical, symbolic, and psychological (Kozulin 1998)


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Interaction is indispensable for understanding mental abilities

  • Independent problem solving reveals an individual’s actual developmental level

  • What she cannot do independently but can do through interaction with others (external mediation) reveals functions that are in the process of maturing – the zone of her proximal development

  • Move from reliance on external mediation to internal mediation: “What a child can do with assistance today she will be able to do by herself tomorrow” (Vygotsky 1978: 87)

  • Potential development varies independently of actual development – the latter cannot be used to predict former


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The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) abilities

Imagine that we have examined two children and have determined that the mental age of both is seven years. This means that both children solve tasks accessible to seven-years-old. However, when we attempt to push these children further in carrying out the tests, there turns out to be an essential difference between them.

With the help of leading questions, examples, and demonstrations, one of them easily solves test items taken from two years above the child’s level of [actual] development. The other solves test items that are only a half-year above, his or her level of [actual] development.

(Vygotsky 1956: 446-447, cited in Wertsch 1985: 68)


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ZPD (cont.) abilities

From the point of view of their independent activity they are equivalent, but from the point of view of their immediate potential development they are sharply different. That which the child turns out to be able to do with the help of an adult points us toward the zone of the child’s proximal development.

This means that with the help of this method, we can take stock not only of today’s completed process of development, not only the cycles that are already concluded and done, not only the processes of maturation that are completed; we can also take stock of processes that are now in the state of coming into being, that are only ripening, or only developing

(Vygotsky 1956: 447-448; cited in Wertsch 1985: 68)


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Importance of the ZPD abilities

  • “determining the actual level of development not only does not cover the whole picture of development, but very frequently encompasses only an insignificant [italics added] part of it”.

  • Vygotsky, L. S. (1998). The Problem of Age. In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky. Vol. 5. Child Psychology. R. W. Rieber (Ed.). New York: Plenum.


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Teaching and Assessment: Two sides of the same coin abilities

  • ZPD situates tasks beyond what learners can do independently in order to guide development; goal of educational activity in the ZPD is not the product but the process (not about completing a task or ‘getting through’ a test)

  • Assessment/Teaching that targets maturing abilities allows for cognitive functions to be observed while they are still forming and offers the possibility for intervening to promote the development

  • We must not ignore the “possibility that the predicted destiny may not materialize if powerful intervention takes place” (Feuerstein et al., 1988: 83).


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Defining Dynamic Assessment (DA) abilities

  • an “approach to understanding individual differences and their implications for instruction…[that] embeds intervention within the assessment procedure” (Lidz & Gindis 2003: 99)

  • focuses “on modifiability and on producing suggestions for interventions that appear successful in facilitating improved learner performance” (Lidz 1991: 6).


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Defining Dynamic Assessment (cont.) abilities

  • DA differs from other assessments -> basic premise that fully understanding abilities requires active intervention in development

    • Shifting procedure’s focus from product of prior learning to processesthrough which abilities are formed

  • At level of practice -> familiar assessment model in which teachers observe student performance is replaced; teachers and students jointly carry out activities, with teachers intervening as necessary to help learners stretch beyond current capabilities


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Co-constructing ZPD During DA abilities

  • Through its history in education, intelligence/abilities testing, and special education, different approaches to providing mediation have been devised:

    • in form of hints, prompts, leading questions scripted beforehand & arranged from most implicit to most explicit (Campione, Brown & colleagues’ Graduated Prompt Approach; Guthke’s Lerntest)

    • open-ended, negotiated dialogically, continually attuned to learner needs (Reuven Feuerstein’s Mediated Learning Experience)

  • L2 DA work (to date) emphasized dialogic approach (Lantolf & Poehner 2004; Poehner 2007, 2008; Ableeva 2008; Summers 2008)


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Contribution of DA to L2 Classroom abilities

  • Integration of teaching with assessment

  • Focusing Teaching on emerging rather than fully formed abilities (maximize impact on learner development)

  • Theoretically-driven, systematic approach to diagnosing learner abilities

  • Rea-Dickins & Gardner (2000): Informal and unsystematic nature of classroom assessments lead to

    • overestimates of ability, underestimates of progress

    • Possible implication: individual students or group of students lose out on the appropriate kind or level of instruction

  • Decisions based on formative assessments are high-stakes

    • A traditional difference between classroom-based assessment and formal assessments (i.e., tests) may not be as clear-cut as assumed


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Challenge of Feasibility of DA in L2 Classrooms abilities

  • Dyadic, expert-novice, mediator-learner model

  • Teacher expertise needed for DA principles to be followed in particular classroom context with particular learners

  • DA is NOT a technique or method but a framework for approaching educational activity that foregrounds learner development


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Classroom-based Dynamic Assessment abilities

  • Teacher (Tracy) had studied Teachers Guide to DA; collaboratively designed approach to implement DA in her classroom context

  • Class of primary school (4th Grade) learners of L2 Spanish in US; focus of lesson is vocabulary for indigenous Peruvian animals (unit on Peru) & substantive-modifier concord

  • Tracy engages learners in game: individuals take turns (one student at a time) rolling cube w/ pictures of animals to randomly select animal to describe using appropriate vocabulary & marking agreement


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Inventory of Mediating Prompts abilities

  • Pause

  • Repeat the whole phrase questioningly

  • Repeat just the part of the sentence with the error

  • Teacher asks, “What is wrong with that sentence?”

  • Teacher points out the incorrect word

  • Teacher asks either/or question (negros o negras?)

  • Teacher identifies the correct answer

  • Teacher explains why



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Interactants in Classroom-based DA abilities

  • Primary Interactants: teacher & learner whose difficulty is focus of mediation at given moment

  • Secondary Interactants: other learners present during exchange & who together constitute social space of classroom

    - Secondary interactants may also benefit from exchanges between primary interactants; vicarious responses as in Ohta (2001); (also Lantolf & Yanez-Prieto 2003)


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Classroom DA Example 1: Vicente abilities

T: ¿Tiene dos orejas * café?

it has two *brown ears?

V: (looks at the cube again and points at it twice with his finger) sí dos orejas (pause) *café

yes two *brown ears

T: ¿*Café?

*brown?

V: ¿Amarillo?

yellow?

 T: ‘Café’ es correcto pero ¿dos orejas café?

‘brown’ is correct but two brown ears?

V: (no response, turns his body to face the class, looks at cube then out at class and back to cube)


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Example 1: Vicente (cont.) abilities

T: ¿Cuántas orejas?

how many ears?

V: tiene dos orejas

it has two ears

(long pause, points at the image on the cube, then looks at teacher)

*café

*brown

(looks out to the class, then back to the teacher)

*café

*brown

(then looks back at the cube)


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Example 1: Vicente (cont.) abilities

(murmuring from another student of camera) 

T: shhh (directed to the student)

T: Hay un problema (pause) con la palabra ‘café’

there is a problem (pause) with the word ‘brown’

(no response from Vicente but a girl in the class says “oh” and raises her hand) 

T: (looks to the girl and then back to Vicente) ¿Es *café o cafés?

Is it *brown or brown?

V: Cafés

Brown

T: Sí muy bien tiene dos orejas cafés muy bien excelente Vicente

Yes very good it has two brown ears very good excellent Vicente


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Classroom DA Example 2: Gabriela abilities

T: okay ¿cuál animal es?

what animal is this?

G: uh I don’t get this one

T: clase ¿quién puede ayudarle? ¿ cuál animal es?

class who can help her what animal is this?

(several students raise hands to volunteer)

T: uhhhh ¿Josué?

J: la lechuza

an owl

T: la lechuza

an owl


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Example 2: Gabriela (cont.) abilities

G: uh la lechuza tiene (inaudible) or…?

the owl has (inaudible) or…?

 T: sí

G: uh (pause) ¿*dos ala gris? (looks to teacher) wai-wai-wait ¿*dos alas gris?

*two gray wing? *two gray wings?

T: gooood ¿*alas gris?

*gray wings?

G: ¿grises?

gray?

T: excelente muy bien Gabriela

excellent very good Gabriela


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Classroom DA Example 3: Amora abilities

T: (looking out to the class) por favor un voluntario más

one more volunteer please

(several students raising hands) Amora gracias

Amora thank you

 (Amora comes to the front of the room, takes the cube and tosses it)

 T: ¿ Cuál animal es?

What animal is it?

 A: La alpaca

The alpaca

 T: okay

 A: um la alpaca tiene dos ojos (pause) uh negros?

the alpaca has two black eyes? 

T: perfecto dos ojos negros

perfect two black eyes


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Classroom DA Example 4: Vicente Follow-Up abilities

  • Three days after the preceding examples, Tracy engaged her class in a similar but slightly more challenging activity: in pairs one student had a picture of an animal, the other student had to ask questions to elicit descriptive details about the animal from his/her partner; goal was to correctly guess animal on card

  • Vicente is holding a card with a picture of a chinchilla; Tracy joins the pair and begins to prompt Vicente to describe the animal 


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Classroom DA Example 4: Vicente Follow-Up abilities

V: Tengo …. (looks at photo he is holding) dos… orejas… cafés

I have two brown ears

T: Dos orejas cafés ¿y?

two brown ears and?

(Vicente looks at the teacher)

¿Qué más?

What else?

(Vicente looks at the photo)

V: Orejas

ears

T: Sí, dos orejas cafés. Sí. ¿qué más? Y …. ¿De qué color es la boca? ¿o los ojos? Or [sic] las piernas

Yes, two brown ears. Yes. What else? And…What color is the mouth? Or the eyes? Or the legs?


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Example 4: Vicente Follow-Up (cont.) abilities

V: Ojos

eyes

T: Y ? y dos ojos

and? and two eyes

V: Y dos ojos

and two eyes

T: Dos ojos ¿de qué color?

Two eyes, What color?

(Vicente looks at the teacher, who points to the picture)

¿De qué color son los ojos? dos ojos…?

What color are the eyes? Two eyes…?

V: Ah, negros

Ah, black

T: Negros. Perfecto…


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Discussion abilities

  • Tracy’s approach to bringing DA into her classroom depended upon expert knowledge of the local context as well as knowledge of DA and ZPD (integration of practice with theory)

  • Result -> highly systematic approach to interacting with learners; track individuals & class over time according to independent assignments but also record of interactions in class (problems, mediation)

  • Impact on development of

  • Process (struggle) rather than immediate correction

  • Observation by secondary interactants of primary interactants’ negotiations


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Ongoing Project: abilitiesComputer-Administered DA (C-DA)

  • Funded through US DoE Grant Award 421-47 (508P)

  • Development of computerized language proficiency exams in Chinese, French, & Russian

    • Standardized, multiple-choice format (similar to TOEFL)

    • Includes both reading and listening comprehension

  • Administration of exams accompanied by menu of mediating prompts and hints

    • Graded from most implicit to most explicit

    • Mediation provided as learner struggles with exam items

  • Computer-generated profile of performance including

    • Level of mediation needed for individual items, for exam sections

    • Recommendations for future study based on performance on exam sections


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