A review of outcomes-based assessment in China

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In recent years, many schools and universities adopt outcomes-based assessment in learning for students. Outcomes-based assessment focus on the ideas that the teachers will teach some skills, ideas and concepts, they will make sure the concepts being absorbed by students and find them the skilled development which they have learned, at the meanwhile, they will reflect the concepts which the students access the knowledge in different ways and allow them to display or talk about the information acquisition in multiplicity of ways (Murphy, 2007). According to Brindley (1998, p.48), outcome statements is language proficiency and are considered as "standards, benchmarks, attainment targets, bandscales, profiles and competencies", cited from the study guide (2006). This essay will argue that the outcomes-based assessment in language learning in China. English as the world' s most popular language came into being, and it become the major language of international communication in the world. China as a developing country introduced a large number of western culture and new model education to promote the development of education. Outcomes-based education was a popular term in America during the 1980s and early 1990s (Wikipedia). Outcomes-based assessment focus on the motivation and learning goals, especially focus on improving learning and achievement awareness of students, and give them a new interpretation for their future. In some Chinese universities, the English teaching for the students should be around the learning task, the professional settings and vocational scope. It is aims to develop students' language ability and comprehensive skills to adapt to the future and society. The English teaching within outcomes-based education in some schools emphasis on guiding students in independent study and the cultivation of overall quality. This assessment based on the student-centered learning, it is a measurement of students' performance. Ingram (2001) "distinguishes two types of outcome statements: the first provides a kind of 'ruler' against which learner performance can be measured, while the second provides an indication of 'what learners ought to achieve at one level or another or for some puopose' (p.4). For example, many university students would do a series of assessment of whether students have expectation about the core competencies, such as through personal achievement and comparison all the students like the test scores ranking. There are some universities in China assess how much the students achieve core competencies with GPA scores. They are use outcomes-based assessment as a starting point for students to understand the learning aims and direction, so that is also suitable for teachers to know the assessment criteria. There are many usefulness for learning such as is used to increase funding or testing requirements and graduation, and additional preparation, homework and continuing education time by students, teachers and parents (Wikipedia ). It should not be ignored. In China, they focus on Chinese, mathematics, English language learning, science and politics, geography and history to evaluate the students whether access to the academic standards. From the English language learning, it is based on different teaching purposes and requirements of different assessment model designed to organize teaching. It also to check and improve their language learning and teaching, they improve curriculum design and teaching process, as a result, it can promote the development of students effectively from the knowledge and ability, process and methods, attitudes and values to evaluate several aspects to access of their language study.

Outcomes-based education model theory mentioned above is based on the student-centered, outcomes-based designed, and the main purpose is to make everyone learn as premise. Fu (2010) mentions the model of outcomes-based assessment take part in: the first step is to set clear teaching objectives to assess students should have core competencies, followed by assessment of the initial state of the students who depend on the teaching activities which involved curriculum and pedagogy to achieve the purpose, after the end of the teaching, they will assess whether students had achieved the goals and how much they achieved. In the process of outcome-based assessment, it is not only necessary to complete the current teaching requirements, but also suitable for the students future needs. It emphasis on cultivation and training of ability for the students, it is the most important ability to adapt to the employment in the future. The curriculum in Chinese universities divided into core coursed and elective courses which is linked to the selected professional from the students. Take the university English for example, it is a public foundation course which is required to suit the feature of adult students, develop English language proficiency of students so that they can have higher English level which can speak in oral English and written communication as a effective way of future work. Brindley (1998) demonstrates that "the general level descriptors used in some outcome statements are similar to those found in language proficiency rating scales". Take the Australia for example, "the English as a second language bandscales developed by the National Language and Literacy Institute of Australia (NLLIA) for primary and secondary school learners cover listening, reading, speaking and writing four skills". It is similar to English language learning in Chinese schools, most of universities are required to achieve CET4 before a bachelor's degree to graduate. For example: according to College English (2003), vocabulary should be mastered graduation is 4500 words and 1500 phrases; In the reading aspect, the students should understand the original English books and articles in newspapers and magazines successfully; listening model, they can understand the basic radio and television programs at the slower speech rate, they should be able to understand their own professional lectures and master the main point; the learners should be able to have a presentation in professional topics more fluent and accurate or discussion in the international conferences and express their opinions clearly in speaking model; at last is writing aspect, they should master summary of professional articles and write a variety of professional reports and essay. Each evaluation criteria has to review every students' language ability, so that it is a challenge for teachers, this is because of the different situation among to the students.

There are the issues of validity of outcomes-based assessment in this essay. Brindley (1998) described that the validity of hierarchical descriptions of learner proficiency scales. "the validity of outcome statements are to a certain extent inevitable since the theories of those responsible for the development of outcome statements will laregely determine the skills or competencies which are considered to constitute to domain of interest, the terms in which they are described and , by extension, the nature of the criteria which are used to assess performance". He also mentions that the outcome-based assessment involving different definitions of the same construct, even can lead to considerable confusion amongst users and sparking ongoing professional debate. As a result, the effective way is to "bulid up a body of independent evidence on language ability and use through investigation of samples of task performance" (Brindley & McKay, 1994). The outcomes-based education is for all students can learn better, and make their performance be diverse in school, it should be given enough time and opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. Meanwhile, the universities need to modify the curriculum requirements, emphasizing the individual interests, needs and learning level from the students. The learners are required to learn necessary knowledge and skills for their future career and their life. The purpose of outcomes-based assessment is to stimulate the potential of the students to improve their learning outcomes continuously. At Brindley's (1998) passage mentions eight purposes for the outcome statements which can be used by educators and summarized in below:1, build up the expected standards of achievement; 2, it can assist teachers to evaluate the learners by system-wide reference points; 3, it built up framework for the development of curriculum; 4, it is more important for reporting to parents, employers and educational authorities; 5, it can result in the success by the performance; 6, it will assist teachers to implement the curriculum objectives; 7, the identification of needs and resource allocation; 8, the resource are provided for teachers professional development. This outcomes-based assessment can be used many approaches to assess like observation by teachers to students, student self-assessment, testing and so on. The content of the files are recorded the efforts within the four years in the university, which is including plans for all students, observation and results have been obtained. In some universities some students and tutors are be assessed in a few periods, based on these assessment to determine the students' achievement and to make sure whether the goals they achieved and graduation from the university.

There are many advantages in using outcomes-based assessment in language learning for reporting and assessment. Firstly, to make sure that these students can learn useful knowledge and get valuable information, teachers need to collect the data from the students' performance as the basic assessment in the daily life and use the effective methods to ensure the collection of the significant information. It is a efficient way for teacher to know what the teachers should teach and how they teach, and how they assess. It should be aligned with the intended learning outcomes. Secondly, Brindley (1998) points out the outcomes are described in performance terms which can make the students consider the language as a communicative tool in their life and "get the feedback on the success of their learning because the obvious performance criteria are provided against which they can judge their progress". In many Chinese universities, many teachers emphasis on language learning, they observe the students in teaching and identify the problems in time and change strategy to solve the problem. It is also a process of accumulation of experience. And even it can provide the useful data for future learning, so that the students can choose their own learning method better and assess their learning, making the process of language learning become a improvement and success of everyone ultimately. Thirdly, outcomes-based assessment is an effective and direct way to access to what is assessed and link between attainment targets, course goals and learning activities. In addition, the teachers can make better-informed judgements about the learners (Brindley 1998). In fact, assessment results or feedback should be used for purposes of improve the course. As above mentions that teachers may organize language learning activities to observe the performance of the learners, to determine which students have advantage in which aspect, and in which areas need to improve. As a result, it is significant to promote the students to learn independently and make them understand their shortages and improve their weaknesses. These objective results cannot express the actual situation of the students, through the outcomes-based education, the students not only can understand deeply what they have learned, but also be able to explore their potential ability to success finally. At last, Brindley (1998) points out the effective way that can provide the useful statements which can "access to the relevant audiences easily and provide a common language for discussing outcomes".

By contrast, it also has apparent many drawbacks of outcomes-based assessment. Hargreaves (1989) point the view of "when assessment takes the form of constant observation and monitoring in relation to standards, it can become a form of surveillance". This will lead to the psychological shadow of the students, they fear of errors, and even cause a lot of students avoid the express their opinions, just because the records of students achievement made them very uncomfortable. Take the writing aspect in language learning for example, the traditional writing is a kind of 'input - output' process, it seems like the teachers appointed a task and the students respond, then they write an article. As for students, writing is just a task to complete, and the task of teachers is to spend more hours to evaluate and mark for them. However, most students only concern with the final result. As for the teachers' comments and corrections, they are seen and throw them away and do not consider. As a result, despite the hard work for teachers and the students have little harvest, it is just because they are passive writing. In addition, there is huge population in China, it is a challenge for teacher to make outcome. In many Chinese schools, there are a lot of students in each class, the teachers need to spend most of time and energy to assess each students, it also provides a barrier of outcomes-based assessment. Some students may not make the accurate assessment from teachers. At the same time, some teachers are biased against some naughty students, it is also not fair to every students. When the students look at their outcome from the teacher's opinions, there are some negative comments will impact on the future development deeply of the students. Some students can get higher score in certain grades, and some weaknesses cannot get help effectively from teachers, or even result in side branches. Moreover, some standards are set too high or too abstract, many students cannot reach, the teacher think over the starting point of the students. In the outcomes-based education, the main point is to make sure who is going to decide the goal of learning. In some schools, the curriculum design is not correct, the pedagogy is inappropriate and the assessment is not correct with the purpose of the teaching. Outcomes-based assessment depends on student-centered model and hope the students can learn the core competencies or outcome as a starting point at the end of the course. The design of teaching activities is reflect to the assessment methods of the students. Furthermore, Elliott (1994) holds the view that "it is easy to assume the status of a covert curriculum for the standards, benchmarks, profiles and competencies, therefore, they force teachers to 'teach to the test' in order to achieve the best results for their learners, and in the process losing valuable teaching time". In some school's teachers did not carry out their real role, these teachers just teach mechanically to pursue of the progress, they do not really want students to learn the knowledge. Many teachers just teach some methods to students for the examination and to enable students to get higher scores in the exam. These are the wrong approach, and it will provide barrier for the outcomes-based assessment. Finally, society, educators, learners and parents must be responsible for the student learning. Society should provide a good and relaxed environment and a variety of services to enhance educational responsibility for learners. Schools should create the conditions for success in learning for students, teachers should base on future career to encourage the students to make independent decisions and excavate their potential, they should analysis the needs of students to promote them in learning process. The parents responsibility is to contact with teachers to know the performance of their children and support their children in learning and establish a good emotional relationship with them. The learners need to deal with problem independently and motivated to learn, they need to make a good plan for their future. These aspects' responsibility are interrelated and indispensable. For instance, many parents carry their children to school and think that it is the school's responsibility to educate their children. Some students consider that the teachers and parents control them and their intention to do nothing, they are wrong, outcomes-based education is only assist them to educate the students, it is the best to do their duties of these aspects and is all for the students' future career.

To sum up, this issue is still controversy debate in recent years, although the outcomes-based assessment has its shortcomings, it provides effective help for education. Brindley (1998) Outcomes-bases education provides sufficient professional and materials development, rater training and systems for moderation to make sure comparability. In addition, "it conclude the validity of outcome statements, the consistency of judgements of performance and the feasibility of adding further assessment responsibilities to practitioners' day -to - day teaching loads". Outcomes-based education is the analysis of actual teaching situation, and this is a process of accumulation of experience, it can provide useful data for the future learning. Learning is a continuous process and the learning time is uncertain, the educators should use all possible resources to adapt to the needs of all students and explore their potential and make sure the success of the learners. In fact, the assessment is based on the outcomes of standard reference, the standard do not set too high or too low, it should according to the learning content, level and results and then assess them appropriately. Outcomes-based assessment in China' development for teachers provides an efficient help to change the teaching methods and teaching purpose. As for the development of technology, the teachers use science and technology, such as the use of computers and networks to make the classes learning and practice outside combine together to expand knowledge for them and guide students to discover the problem in their daily life and solve the problems independently. They have responsibility to create a health environment for students and get the benefits for their life. Teachers has a pivotal position in outcomes-based education, the assessment of teachers to learners is purposeful and planned. Their evaluation should have expectations of students and guide them how to achieve the purpose. Teachers' expectations is a estimates and expectation to the students of academic behavior in the future, it is based on understanding of teachers to students on current situation and they should make the assessment truthful and objective. Many students will consider this expectation from teacher as a target, then they will make their efforts towards achieving the goals.

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