On 3rd-4th November I had the opportunity to attend the 9th FOAI (Forum on Assessment Issues) event at Social Sciences University of Ankara. FOAI is a platform specifically for representatives from assessment teams of a range of universities in Turkey and North Cyprus to come together to discuss assessment issues in university foundation EAP/preparatory programmes.
The themes of the events are chosen considering the responses of participants to the surveys conducted at the previous FOAI events. And the theme of this event was designing speaking rubrics. The event started with a plenary session about speaking rubrics by Dr. Keith Hoodless, the director of operations and qualifications development at Learning Resources Network in Britain. He discussed many advantages and disadvantages of using scoring rubrics in performance assessment, specifically ESOL speaking exams. The plenary session was followed by a workshop on speaking rubrics by Dr. Reza Vahdani, the head of professional development unit at Social Sciences University of Ankara. The workshop generated a meaningful dialogue among the participants and the presenter concerning the methods and logic for developing an in-house speaking rubric.
After the workshop, we formed focus groups in which we discussed several questions on speaking rubrics as well as our current practices and issues regarding speaking rubrics in our institutions. Each group focused on a different aspect of speaking rubrics:
Focus Group A: Design of Rubrics
Focus Group B: Levels and Assessment Types
Focus Group C: Implementation of Rubrics
On the second day of the event, each group prepared a presentation about the outcomes of their discussions and gave a 15-minute presentation to the whole group. The presentations were followed by a reflection session in which we reflected on our own practices and the suggestions offered. At the end of the event, the next hosting institution was announced. It will be Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus. We also discussed the next event’s theme, but we could not reach a consensus on it.
Overall, this event gave me the opportunity to meet other professionals in the field of assessment and learn about the activities and approaches to assessment and evaluation of speaking in other programmes. It was great to see that we, as Özyeğin University, are on the right track in terms of using appropriate speaking rubrics for different speaking tasks in different levels. Our practices here are in line with both the literature and what is expected in reality.