Reflection on FOAI-8 by Nurkan Dikmen
As an assessment specialist, I had an opportunity to attend FOAI-8 at Karabük University. FOAI (Focus on Assessment Issues) was established as a forum for representatives from a range of universities in Turkey and North Cyprus to come together to discuss assessment issues in universities.
The theme of this eighth one was speaking assessment. We were able to exchange ideas about how institutions assess speaking skills in English. There was a plenary session entitled “Speaking Assessment” by Christopher Sheen, a teacher trainer and coordinator at Oxford University Press. He discussed how to build an effective environment for a speaking assessment task and he talked about the characteristics of a speaking rubric. This plenary session was followed by four selected university participant presentations. Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul Technical University, Social Sciences University of Ankara and Özyeğin University each gave a mini-presentation on how the speaking skill is assessed in those institutions. I tried to explain our formative and summative evaluation of speaking. I talked about our MCD speaking tasks and speaking test in the B2 level.
After those mini-presentations, we formed focus groups in which we discussed several questions on speaking assessment. Each group focused on different stages of speaking assessment:
Focus Group A: Development of Speaking Tasks
Focus Group B: Training Graders and Using Criteria
Focus Group C: Test Administration
At the end of the event, there was a reflection session in which every focus group shared the outcomes of their discussions. We also discussed the next event’s theme, which might be how to create a speaking rubric.
Overall, this event gave me the opportunity to meet other professionals in the field of assessment. I also felt good that we as Özyeğin University had already taken lots of action in the process of speaking assessment.