What is LOA

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Teachers College Columbia University Roundtable in Second Language Studies

Roundtable in Second Language Studies (TCCRISLS)

Teachers College Columbia University

What is LOA?

Learning-oriented assessment (LOA) refers to an approach to assessment that prioritizes the centrality of L2 processing and L2 learning outcomes, resulting from planned and unplanned assessments, in a variety of learning and assessment contexts (Purpura & Turner, 2013). LOA is often associated with assessments embedded within teaching and learning contexts. More recently, it has also been associated with scaffolded assistance and learning within assessment contexts. Inferences from LOAs relate to:

  1. what L2 knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) learners have displayed in instruction or assessment contexts
  2. how assessment evidence can be used by the learners themselves, teachers, peers, assessors, and computer-mediated assessment programs to evaluate learning goals, and advance L2 processing objectives
  3. how learners develop target-like L2 performance over time

An LOA approach, therefore, assumes that learning an L2, in whatever context, is an individual, cognitive process, but when situated within collaborative learning and assessment spaces, it also involves a layered set of socio-cognitive and sociocultural processes. Finally, an LOA approach to assessment recognizes the symbiotic relationships among external standards, curriculum, instruction, learning, and assessment, and is concerned with the role that these synergies play in understanding learner performance, engagement, learning processes, and the attainment of learning success. 

TCCRISLS 2014 hopes to bring together scholars interested in various aspects of LOA in classrooms or large-scale assessment contexts. It will feature four types of presentations:

  1. theoretical approaches to L2 learning and assessment (e.g., learning-oriented assessment, formative assessment, dynamic assessment, diagnostic assessment)
  2. theoretical approaches to learning and assessment in the content areas (e.g., math, science, social studies) and the role that the L2 plays in these assessments
  3. empirical studies on learning-oriented L2 assessment (e.g., unplanned LOAs and the role of teacher assistance in promoting L2 processes; the role of performance resources and assistance in LOAs and their effect on performance)
  4. technological innovations and other applications of LOA in learning or assessment contexts (e.g., promoting learner agency and engagement in computer-mediated, scenario-based L2 LOAs)

TCCRISLS is particularly interested in proposals for presentations of empirical papers on topics related to individual or integrated dimensions of LOA, as follows: 

  • The Contextual Dimension of LOA

e.g., How do teacher characteristics (e.g., assessment literacy) affect learning and assessment in classroom contexts? How does the classroom culture affect LOA practices? What socio-political forces promote/constrain the implementation of an LOA approach to assessment in educational contexts?

  • The Assessment Dimension of LOA

e.g., What is the nature of planned and unplanned LOAs, and how do they promote L2 processing and learning outcomes? To what extent do teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge affect the interpretation of LOAs and decisions about next learning steps?

  • The Proficiency Dimension of LOA

e.g., What role do LOAs have in the development of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) over time in classroom contexts? How can LOAs reveal individual and group learning progressions with respect to specific domains of KSAs?

  • The Learning Dimension of LOA

e.g., To what extent does the inclusion of resources (e.g., dictionaries) and assistance (e.g., spell checks) in LOAs affect performance quality? What is the nature of self- and peer assessment in unplanned LOAs, and how do they advance L2 processing and learning success? What is the role of feedback and assistance in LOAs, and what effect do they have on furthering L2 processing and ultimate success?

  • The Interactional Dimension of LOA

e.g., What is the interactional nature of feedback and assistance in unplanned LOAs, and how does this affect L2 processing and learning outcomes?

  • The Affective Dimension of LOA

e.g., How do learners’ personal characteristics (e.g., self-perceptions, level of persistence) affect learning and assessment? To what extent does the inclusion of learner agency and engagement in computer-mediated, scenario-based LOAs affect performance success?

General References on LOA

Carless, D. (2007). Learning-oriented assessment: conceptual basis and practical implications. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44, 1: 57-66.

Jones, N., Saville, N., & Hamilton, M. (2013). A systematic view of assessment with an educational context. ILTA/AAAL Joint Symposium on “LOA in classrooms.”

Purpura, J. E. (2004). Assessing grammar. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Purpura, J. E. (2009). The impact of large-scale and classroom-based language assessments on the individual. In

C. Weir & L. Taylor (Eds.), Language testing matters: Investigating the wider social and educational impact of assessment – Proceedings of the ALTE Cambridge Conference, April 2008 (pp. 301-325). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Purpura, J. E., & Turner, C. E. (2013). Learning-oriented assessment in classrooms: A place where SLA, interaction, and language assessment interface. ILTA/AAAL Joint Symposium on “LOA in classrooms.” 

Turner, C. E., & Purpura, J. E. (Submitted). Learning-oriented assessment in second and foreign language classrooms. In D. Tsagari & J. Baneerjee (Eds.), Handbook of Second Language Assessment. Boston, MA: De Gruyter, Inc.