Washback effects on curriculum innovation.
The way in which tests influence teaching and learning is described as washback effects. This study examined the relationship between washback effects and curriculum innovation in language teaching and learning. The results found washback effects exerted an impact on teachers' classroom behaviors. Negative washback effects generated from the lack of the alignment of the testing objective with the new curriculum would hinder hin·der 1
v. hin·dered, hin·der·ing, hin·ders
1. To be or get in the way of.
2. To obstruct or delay the progress of.
v.intr. the implementation of the new curriculum. This study suggested washback effects of external tests should be considered when an innovated curriculum was introduced.
Tests are often used as a part of teaching process to provide diagnosis of teaching and learning results. Due to their wide use, tests, particularly external tests, may exert an influence on teachers and students with an associated impact on what happens in classrooms (Morris, 1990). The phenomenon that testing becomes a dominant role to influence what and how teachers teach and students learn is described as washback effects (Alderson and Wall, 1993).
As Shohamy (1993) pointed out, external tests had often been used to impose new curricula by central agencies and decision makers who were aware of the authoritative power of the tests. She further described the washback effects as the "most powerful devices, capable of changing and prescribing the behavior of those who are affected by their results--that is, administrators, teachers, and students" (p. 513). If the effects of external tests are beneficial and encourage the whole range of desired changes, this consequence is associated with positive washback effects. Aligning the curriculum and the external test, which refers to the match between the content and format of the curriculum and of the test, is commonly regarded as one way to produce positive washback effects to improve the quality of education (Shepard, 1993; Andrews, 1994). However, other possibilities were also held as Alderson and Wall (1993) argued that the relationship between tests and their impact, positive or negative, might not be as simple as that at first glance.
Whether a curriculum change is desirable, particularly in cases where successful models from one context are imported into another new context, teachers are key players. Some studies concluded that an innovated curriculum would be more successfully implemented if teachers had more positive attitudes towards it (Morris, 1988). The other studies cast doubt on the assumed characteristics of teachers' attitudes and actual classroom behaviors. Cheng and Falvey (2000), for example, pointed out that teachers' attitudes could not always be an accurate indicator of how a new curriculum was operated. The relationships between teachers' attitudes and behaviors seem quite complex. Better understanding the influence of washback effects on curriculum innovation would be essential to explain the discrepancy DISCREPANCY. A difference between one thing and another, between one writing and another; a variance. (q.v.)
2. Discrepancies are material and immaterial. of teachers' attitudes toward curriculum innovation and their actual use of it, which would enhance a desirable result of educational reform.
English education in Taiwan's junior high school is mandatory. The Ministry of Education (MOE Moe
continually exasperated at Larry and Curly for their mischievous pranks. [TV: “The Three Stooges” in Terrace, II, 366]
See : Exasperation ) is responsible for formulating education policy and overseeing the operations of all schools. Traditional English education placed an emphasis on reading skills with a major goal to cultivate cul·ti·vate
tr.v. cul·ti·vat·ed, cul·ti·vat·ing, cul·ti·vates
a. To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.
b. students' translation abilities to read and translate materials written in English. The previous curriculum, thus, was aimed to promote students' grammar knowledge in reading and translation. Most English teachers English Teachers (airing internationally as Taipei Diaries) is a Canadian documentary television series. The series, which airs on Canada's Life Network and internationally, profiles several young Canadians teaching English as a Second Language in Taipei, Taiwan. in junior high schools implemented the grammar translation In applied linguistics, the Grammar-Translation method is a foreign language teaching method derived from the classical or sometimes called traditional method of teaching Greek and Latin. method in their classrooms to meet the expectations of the national curriculum.
Owing to owing to
Because of; on account of: I couldn't attend, owing to illness.
owing to prep → debido a, por causa de the convenience of transportation and a revolution in technology, contact by teachers and students with English-speaking countries increased. The old curriculum, developed in 1985 by the MOE, was under serious criticism for not providing communicative competences Communicative competence is a linguistic term which refers to a learner's L2 ability. It not only refers to a learner's ability to apply and use grammatical rules, but also to form correct utterances, and know how to use these utterances appropriately. for junior high school students. Thus, the MOE began to reform junior high school English education. The innovated curriculum was introduced in 1994, following by the issuance of the new textbooks in 1997. The introduction of the new curriculum attempts to encourage communicative language teaching Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is an approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. and learning with an aim to promote students' communicative competences. Starting from 2001, a reformed examination, called the Basic Competence Test (BCT BCT Brigade Combat Team
BCT Basic Combat Training
BCT Best Conventional Pollutant Control Technology (EPA)
BCT Business Cards Tomorrow
BCT Banque Centrale de Tunisie (Central Bank of Tunisia) ), has replaced the previous Joint Senior High School Entrance Examination to align align (līn),
v to move the teeth into their proper positions to conform to the line of occlusion. with the new curriculum. The BCT format in English is multiple choices with the objective on testing students' contextual reading competences.
Data were collected through the focus groups in 2001. Totally, three groups of junior high school English teachers in Taiwan, with five to six participants in each group were interviewed. To facilitate the study, the following research questions were formulated.
* What are the teachers' attitudes toward the innovated curriculum?
* What changes have they made to align with the new curriculum?
* To what extent does the BCT influence their implementation of the new curriculum?
* What other factors influence their adoption of the new curriculum?
The note-based content analysis was used to interpret the data. In order for analysis to be verifiable, the data stream began with field notes and recordings that were taken during the interviews, continued with the oral summary of key points during the interviews, went into the debriefing de·brief·ing
1. The act or process of debriefing or of being debriefed.
2. The information imparted during the process of being debriefed.
Noun 1. with the moderator moderator - A person, or small group of people, who manages a moderated mailing list or Usenet newsgroup. Moderators are responsible for determining which email submissions are passed on to the list or newsgroup. team immediately following the interviews, and also included the electronic recording with the possibility of a translation of the interviews (Krueger, 1994). Appropriateness of the analysis was established via member check, peer reviews and debriefing.
Results and Discussion
All of the teachers interviewed expressed positive attitudes to the new curriculum. They indicated some changes of their teaching were needed in order to meet the new curriculum standards. Their major changes included the integration of speaking and/or listening in their teaching (as indicated by all of the teachers), and a shift of teaching emphasis from grammar to contextual reading (as indicated by 88% of the teachers).
However, such changes might not be simply due to the BCT because the BCT did not test students' listening and speaking abilities. Instead, the change might be due to the new textbooks and the whole policy for junior high school students to enter senior high schools.
A half of the teachers tended to rely on textbooks as the main source for their teaching. The textbooks were often adopted as a curriculum. One dramatic change of the new textbooks due to the curriculum innovation was more emphasis on speaking and listening activities. Given such an important role that the textbooks had played in junior high school English teaching, the change of textbook contents explained why the teachers would include listening and speaking in their teaching. As one of the teachers said,
My teaching is changed mostly due to the new textbooks. The old textbooks stress reading and writing, whereas the new ones emphasize listening ability. The change of such teaching materials facilitates the change of my teaching. (Female, B.A., eight years of teaching experience)
The whole policy change for junior high school students to enter senior high schools, as expressed by 56% of the teachers, held the other reason for why the teachers would integrate listening and speaking in their teaching. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the new policy for junior high school students to enter senior high schools, called "Multiple Schemes" promulgated prom·ul·gate
tr.v. prom·ul·gat·ed, prom·ul·gat·ing, prom·ul·gates
1. To make known (a decree, for example) by public declaration; announce officially. See Synonyms at announce.
2. by the MOE, junior high school students could be assigned to senior high schools via special selections, recommendations, or the BCT test scores, unlike the previous case in which junior high school students were assigned to senior high schools only based upon their joint senior high school entrance examination score. Most senior high schools required those selected or recommended students to take speaking and listening tests, developed by each individual senior high school, and used the test scores as a part of admission criteria admission criteria
the rules for the establishment of comparable groups in any comparison of differences in the performance or responses of the group. The criteria may be permissible age group, the previous productivity, the freedom from disease and so on. . This explained why the teachers were motivated to teach speaking and listening.
As responded by one third of the teachers, students' learning interests and needs earned more concern when the teachers were planning their classroom syllabus A headnote; a short note preceding the text of a reported case that briefly summarizes the rulings of the court on the points decided in the case.
The syllabus appears before the text of the opinion. . According to the teachers, students' learning attitudes were associated with their learning interests. Promoting students' learning interests facilitated positive learning attitudes, which enhanced learning results and, therefore, their performance in the tests. One of the teachers explained how she would teach differently based on her students' needs and interests:
I teach basic skills to the students in lower-level class. But, I teach more deeply and broadly when I teach the students in higher-level class. It is also more likely for me to supplement extra information to the students with a higher ability or with an interest to learn the language. (Female, B.A., twenty years of teaching experience)
Almost 70% of the teachers indicated that their curricular planning and instruction were constrained con·strain
tr.v. con·strained, con·strain·ing, con·strains
1. To compel by physical, moral, or circumstantial force; oblige: felt constrained to object. See Synonyms at force.
2. by time. They spent most of their time teaching the content of the textbooks because their students' ability was tested by a district-wide test every month. The content of the textbooks was the focus of the test. The teachers expressed that the instructional time they were given, most of time, only allowed them to cover the content of every lesson in the textbooks. They sometimes had to use their students' extracurricular time for reviews or quizzes after finishing a lesson in order to promote or diagnose diagnose /di·ag·nose/ (di´ag-nos) to identify or recognize a disease.
1. To distinguish or identify a disease by diagnosis.
2. their students' learning. Some teachers indicated that they hardly had any activities other than lectures and drills in their teaching. One teacher said that time constraint In law, time constraints are placed on certain actions and filings in the interest of speedy justice, and additionally to prevent the evasion of the ends of justice by waiting until a matter is moot. was the major reason why she was not able to have more communication-based activities:
I would have more speaking and listening activities or supplement more information about how to use the language if I had more time. I really would like to involve more time, if I had, in communicative language teaching. And I believe by doing so, it will promote my students' English communication ability and motivate their learning interests. But, I just do not have time. (Female, M.A., three years of teaching experience)
All of the teachers perceived an impact of the test on their teaching. They explained that English teaching in Taiwan's junior high schools was greatly driven by measurement, especially by external tests. They all admitted if they were more aware of the test content and format, they would be more likely to teach to the test. However, the BCT's objective was focused on promoting students' reading competences rather than speaking and listening abilities. Message focus was central to the communicative com·mu·ni·ca·tive
1. Inclined to communicate readily; talkative.
2. Of or relating to communication.
com·mu methodology while reading was taught. The teachers expressed that they stressed context instead of structures while teaching reading, in terms that they cared more about their students' contextual competences rather than grammatical gram·mat·i·cal
1. Of or relating to grammar.
2. Conforming to the rules of grammar: a grammatical sentence. competences. Although all of the teachers claimed their changes of teaching were due to the test, despite of listening and speaking skills untested, a multiple choice test format was adopted in the BCT, how students' communicative competences could be assessed on a paper and pencil test Pencil test has multiple meanings.
According to Morris (1988), why innovation does or does not have its intended effects places primary emphasis on the ability of change agent to overcome the initial resistance of organizational members to change. However, what teachers would like to change is not necessarily the same as what they actually would do in their classroom (Cheng, 2004). Therefore, the intention to bring in a successful implementation of innovation without an alignment of the testing objective will not necessarily bring out an expected outcome. Despite this, this study found washback effects of external tests occurred to influence how the teachers implemented the new curriculum. Such effects should not be neglected when an innovated curriculum is developed.
Although all of the teachers claimed that they had to make a change of their teaching to meet the new curriculum standards, findings from this study did not provide enough evidence that the teachers would change their perceptions regarding how to teach, in terms that their teaching was still test-oriented. The teachers might have a positive attitude toward the innovated curriculum, but yet found it hard to implement it due to the impact of negative washback effects.
The frontloaded curriculum alignment is practiced in Taiwan junior high school English education. That is, the curriculum is developed first; the test is designed to measure how students have learnt based upon the curriculum. One of problems with frontloading alignment is the poor test quality, such as lack of validity, reliability, and positive washback effects (Smith, 1991). The main goal of the innovated curriculum in Taiwan's junior high school English education is to promote a communicative syllabus in classroom teaching and learning. However, a gap was found between the objectives of the new curriculum and the BCT. "If a new test or assessment instrument is seen as particularly valid, its availability may exert influence on the statement of desired outcomes and the elaboration of the curriculum" (Valette, 1994, p. 10). Positive washback effects are more likely to occur when a curriculum and a test are highly matched. An examination reform, such as the BCT, should be seen as an integral part of the process of curriculum development (Andrews, 1994); that is, speaking and listening tests should be included in the BCT in order to encourage communication-based teaching and learning. By doing so, it may mitigate mit·i·gate
To moderate in force or intensity.
miti·gation n. negative effects of teaching and learning to the test, which might lead to inflated score gains without corresponding improvement in students' mastery of the knowledge and skills being tested.
Further empirical studies Empirical studies in social sciences are when the research ends are based on evidence and not just theory. This is done to comply with the scientific method that asserts the objective discovery of knowledge based on verifiable facts of evidence. should be conducted to provide more insights into the nature of this educational phenomenon across different factors and research contexts. It is recommended that longitudinal studies longitudinal studies,
n.pl the epidemiologic studies that record data from a respresentative sample at repeated intervals over an extended span of time rather than at a single or limited number over a short period. , such as long-term classroom observations, should be conducted to explain how washback effects actually occur to influence language teaching and learning.
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Andrews, S. (1994). Washback or washout washout
to disperse or empty by flooding with water or other solvent.
medullary solute washout
a syndrome in which the relative hyperosmolarity of the renal medulla is reduced due to an excessive loss of sodium and chloride from ? The relationship between examination reform and curriculum innovation. In D. Nunan, V. Berry and R. Berry (Eds.), Bringing about change in language education (pp. 67-81). Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. : Department of Curriculum Studies, University of Hong Kong The University of Hong Kong (commonly abbreviated as HKU, pronounced as "Hong Kong U") is the oldest tertiary institution in Hong Kong. Its motto is "Sapientia et Virtus" in Latin, and " .
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Li-Mei Chen, Valdosta State University Valdosta State University is a public university located in the city of Valdosta, Georgia, in the United States, and is part of the University System of Georgia. Degree levels offered at VSU include: Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Education Specialist, and Doctoral. , Georgia
Li-Mei Chen received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University Ohio State University, main campus at Columbus; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1870, opened 1873 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, renamed 1878. There are also campuses at Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark. . She is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics linguistics, scientific study of language, covering the structure (morphology and syntax; see grammar), sounds (phonology), and meaning (semantics), as well as the history of the relations of languages to each other and the cultural place of language in human in the Department of English Noun 1. department of English - the academic department responsible for teaching English and American literature
academic department - a division of a school that is responsible for a given subject .