Finding a Voice in EFL Classroom Discussions: A Bakhtinian Interpretation of Formative Assessment


This presentation will give a Bakhtinian micro-evaluation of formative assessment practices for classroom discussions in a Japanese university classroom. Students in mixed level classes engaged weekly in opinionated discussions. The discussions involved the students in making arguments for and against rules in their daily lives. The discussions were recorded and students kept an online journal reflecting on the discussions as part of formative assessment. At the heart of formative assessment is the idea that assessment provides feedback which moves learning forward, and provides evidence for the teacher to make pedagogical decisions. In this respect, the journals afforded an avenue not only for teacher feedback, but also for a dialogue with students about communication and learning strategies within discussions. This presentation will demonstrate the effectiveness of this type of formative assessment through Bakhtin’s concept of the utterance. For Bakhtin, an utterance is imbued with the values and meanings of others, and embodies a struggle between those meanings and the intended meaning of speakers as they try to find a voice. The appropriation of new and creative voices in classroom discussions over six weeks of discussion practice can be traced to formative assessment in the reflection journals. By illustrating a number of cases, the presenter will argue that formative assessment of discussion activities through reflection journals can help students find their voices within discussions and further enhance second language learning. The implications for teaching practice and formative assessment methodology in an EFL context will be discussed.

Author Information
Daniel Parsons, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2015
Stream: Alternative assessment

This paper is part of the ACLL2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon