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Professional Development Workshop Explores Writing Assessment Tools

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On June 30, 2014, the American University of Armenia (AUA)’s Center for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRAL) conducted a professional development workshop for in-service English as a Foreign Language teachers in Armenia. The workshop addressed issues associated with using analytic and holistic rubrics to assess student writing. It also engaged the participants in an assessment calibration session. The purpose of this event was to empower teachers with the knowledge and confidence to use grading rubrics when assessing written language production, and to establish a network for further workshops on assessing productive language skills, thus helping to introduce the culture of using grading rubrics in Armenian schools.

Forty-nine English language teachers from various schools in Yerevan were in attendance. The event started with a presentation on the types of assessment tools and the importance of the calibration process delivered by Rubina Gasparian, lecturer at AUA. The presentation was followed by a workshop conducted in three breakout sessions by graduates of AUA’s Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program and currently enrolled students. The trainees were involved in hands-on tasks to practice using holistic or analytic grading rubrics to grade essays, and they also participated in a calibration session.

According to both oral feedback and a written survey, the overall outcome of the training was very positive. The participants’ views of the workshop indicated that the workshop met their expectations and fulfilled its objectives. They mentioned that the training strengthened their knowledge of types of assessment tools and helped them see the value of the calibration process. A number of trainees said that the hands-on participatory approach in particular invigorated them and enhanced their willingness to utilize the skills and knowledge acquired in the workshop. Most attendees expressed their interest in attending similar workshops in the future.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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Participants in the workshop.

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According to participant feedback, the overall outcome of the training was very positive.

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Workshop participants in AUA’s Alex & Marie Manoogian Hall.

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