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Prof. Dr. Yuko Goto Butler (University of Pennsylvania, United States of America)

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Putting children in the center of assessment practice

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As teaching additional languages to young learners (defined as children ages 5-12 in this talk) has become more popular globally, one of the concerns that has arisen among practitioners is how best to assess their learning processes and outcomes. At the same time, in studies on child development and related topics, there have been discussions on research with children as opposed to research on children as opposed to research on children. Researchers historically have treated children as objects of study (e.g., giving children tasks or measurements in controlled settings) or as subjects of study (e.g., observing and interpreting children’s behaviors and attitudes from adult perspectives). Such approaches have been challenged by ideas that promote children’s agency and grant them greater autonomy as social actors. In this talk, therefore, I explore the idea of assessment with children and discuss its possibilities with some suggestions, while drawing upon examples from my own work and that of others.

 

I conceptualize assessment with children broadly, without referring to any particular method. Assessment with children is any approach where (a) children are invited to participate in assessment not merely as passive receivers of assessment but as social agents and (b) children’ views and experiences can directly or indirectly contribute to the improvement of assessment theroies, practices, and consequences. Critically, children should benefit from this process by having an opportunity to learn. I acknowledge that, as with research with children, assessment with learners will not always work depending on the type of research, but I believe that embracing methodological diversity when feasible can stimulate and advance our understanding of assessment theories and practice.

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