All posts by Billy

ICBAM: Alternative model of assessment in Kazakhstan.

The objectives set by the President of Kazakhstan Republic, Nursultan Nazarbayev on entering in 50 most competitive countries of the world, have dramatically changed the educational requirements. The purpose of the new model of Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) criteria based assessments is to provide an internationally recognized summative measure of the knowledge, skills and understanding that a learner has acquired. The examinations are administered rigorously and securely to international standards, leading to qualifications that are accepted nationally and internationally. The assessment aims to identify what learners know and are able to do following a course of formal study and establish whether they are able to use the skills relating to the subject within the global environment of the 21st century, using problem solving and higher order thinking and analytical skills.

Strategic partner, Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) recognizes that the mission of NIS is to develop innovative, critical and creative independent thinkers, able to take their place at the forefront of their country’s technological and cultural future and ready to make a strong contribution on the international stage. Assessment can embrace many different activities, including written examinations, verbal responses, practical activities, witness statements, coursework portfolios and presentations. Well-designed assessments, whatever their purpose, must be strong,valid,reliable, practicable and positive in their impact on those who use them. CIE sends experienced teachers/trainers, who have degrees in Engineering and Natural Sciences from Cambridge University or Qualified Teacher Status in the UK. Also those who authored Schemes of Work and Programs of Study for individual educational establishments and advised NIS teachers on the Subject Program and advised on the development of the Test Specifications. Language subject assessments reflect the NIS trilingual policy, the main aim of which is to teach learners in a trilingual environment and assess learning in Kazakh, Russian and English. The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is used as a general benchmark to compare standards of achievement in three languages. It is important to note, though, that the CEFR was not designed with mother tongue languages in mind, so a difference in approach are adopted for L1/L2 and for L3. The target graduation level of L1, L2 and L3 would be CEFR C2, C2, and C1 respectively. All four language skills in L3 – reading, writing, listening and speaking – are tested, and at grade 12 Use of English is assessed.
In conclusion it is imortant to emphasize that this is highly innovative for Kazakhstan to create new type of assessment within the secondary school education system and according to NIS teachers, this is the beginning of changes in the culture of assessment.

References:
Bridges, D. (2014). Educational reform and internationalization: School reform in Kazakhstan. UK: Cambridge University Press.

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To be or not to be… successful?

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It is impossible to deny the positive effects of parental involvement in school education. There are even organizational cultures that encourage and increase school parent involvement. As for parental involvement in higher education, primarily, it is interesting to question whether students need help like schoolchildren at the time when adulthood often enters around of 18. Choosing a college or university major represents a major life decision and choosing the right place requires careful consideration and should not be a “last minute decision” (Gould, 2012, p. 33) or parents’ decision. Unfortunately, as research has shown this decision is most frequently identified as life regret for students (Beggs et al, 2008). Taking into account the fact that the student is not a child any more at this age and great choice of pre-professional university programs, plentiful time the students have before choosing a major, it is interesting to study how parents influence on their decisions what to study, whether the students study what interests them or what interests their parents. Consequently, this raises the question what steps the students take in preparation for college or university graduation, what skills they are equipped with and how these young adults are prepared to enter the workforce especially, when higher education institutions are very actively involved in increasing the employability of graduates (Tempus, 2012). To be professional requires keen interest and commitment to the profession, strong will and confidence. Otherwise, they can fall of their way to success or as it is stressed by Gould (2012) they have “to craft their own life and experience” (p. 31). This is really the time for young people to have that wonderful opportunity to experiment and find their way. How can we generate new knowledge and ensure good training of qualified and adaptable labor force if the students are ‘overprotected’ by their parents.
Finally, according to Salmi et al (2009) “higher education is of paramount importance for economic and social development” (p. 100). Worldwide there is recognition of the important role of the link between industry and education and an attempt to ‘bridge’ students with business in order to equip them with transferable skills and upgrade their knowledge. Universities should help the consumers of their service acquire 21-century skills and navigate their way to labor market because they gain knowledge from quality resources. The main factors considered in recruiting graduates are interpersonal skills, teamwork and ICT skill. Only self-confident student equipped with academic qualifications and employability skills can easily navigate his way to work force and be successful.

References:
Beggs, J. M., Bantham, J. H., & Taylor, S. (2008). Distinguishing the Factors Influencing College Students’ Choice of Major. College Student Journal, 42 (2), 381-394.
Gould, J. B. (2012) How to succeed in college [While Really Trying]: A professor’s inside advice. The University of Chicago press.
National Tempus office Kazakhstan. (2012). Higher Education in Kazakhstan. Tempus.
Salmi, J., Hopper, R. & Bassett, R.M. (2009). Transforming Higher Education in Developing Countries: The role of the World Bank. New York, NY: Taylor &Francis

“There is something in what you say”. (or why there is an increasing concern and criticism about “Supply side” of Higher Education?)

In knowledge driven society, higher education seen as key to the future. Serving for society, universities are inevitably, affected by changes in society. With primary goals in mind – providing democracy, equality, academic freedom and pursuit of knowledge, and pervasive requirements of the time – enhancing leadership, change and innovation, universities undergoing great changes and facing serious challenges between what public needs and what and how they can afford them. Therefore, what are the current expectations of the society at the threshold of new millennium and what are the opportunities higher education institutions can possibly provide? Isn’t there a public misunderstanding of what HEIs do, or there is genuinely something in what they say?

HEIs are cognizant of the fact of public dissatisfaction and the matter is not in their being oblivious to criticism. External changes in social – political environment are forcing reexamination of HE. Utilitarian phase of the relationship between higher education and society brings changes into HE core activities such as administration, governance, curriculum, research and faculty roles. Apart from their core activities of teaching, all HEIs worldwide are undergoing change. According to Duderstadt (2000), activities like “cutting costs, raising revenues and capitalizing on new technology create burdens on staff and distract them from their core academic activities” (p. 22). HE has always been a transformative experience though. At the administrative level, the challenges connected with the turnover in university leadership, tenure of leaders and faculty, which destabilize university leadership to achieve effective change. (Duderstadt, 2000). HE governance challenges are about the change in the body of governing boards and theoretical models for educational organization. Growing demand for developing broad “soft” skills, improving peoples’ potential and intellectual growth as well as transparency and achievement of certain learning outcomes are the main imperatives of the curriculum. Effective changes in learning and teaching are needed to better equip students. One point that is more notable is that the problem of university and business ‘antagonism’ should be settled down to understand each other’s language, set up productive partnership and trust between two bodies. Business create innovation and employment. Moreover, as practice has shown business comes from research universities.

To sum, the role of HE providers as society expects it, are pivotal in improving self-management, responsibility acceptance, ICT skills, ability to work in fast manners and second language acquisition of graduates. Graduate attributes are closely connected with interpersonal and transferable employability skills to be effective contributors of a society.

References

Duderstadt, J. J. (2000). A University for the 21st Century. University of Michigan Press.

SEE into the future: skills, entrepreneurship and employment. (2014, November). Retrieved from http://www.britishcouncil.org/education/ihe/

The cultural expectation that women would stay at home while men were breadwinners had faded.

Women leaders changed the stereotypical perception about themselves in the society and the ways they are contributing to contemporary practice of leadership.
According to both qualitative and quantitative studies, women had limited choices in leadership and came across number of obstacles in their way to leadership in the past. There was a threat of losing the job if they could not look, behave and act like men. However, they began taking the risks to develop their own strategies. Now it is possible to identify five approaches (Grogan and Shakeshaft, 2011, p. 2) and five types of power (p. 93) that characterize women’s educational leadership. Despite the criticism of being ‘caretakers’ and ‘servant leaders’, they describe their work as a ‘mission’ and as a ‘family duty’. Unlike formal leaders, women brought new paradigm to conventional education leadership with their innovative approach. Women proved that their worldviews are different from those of male leaders and that they can be “known, trusted and accepted” (p. 97).
We know leadership is physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding work by itself. It involves complex tasks. Leadership is not attractive option for women particularly, who carry the burden of family and domestic responsibilities. Last year the first time since adopting the independence a woman was appointed the position of the state secretary by the president. The president takes the initiative of attracting women to more serious position. This shows his trust in women’s power. Gone are those days when only men were trusted such strong positions.
The above mentioned is a good example of gender sensitivity and equal status, which I believe, will encourage more women to hold leading positions. It is also important for us, future leaders, seeking administrative responsibility to adopt strategies to lead and manage our male and female colleagues.
Are you ready? Who is the breadwinner of your family? Father? Spouse? or YOU?

References
Grocan, M., Shakeshaft, C. (2011). Women and educational leadership. San Francisco, USA: Jossey-Bass.

Ways to teach keep on developing!

Today, there are unlimited sources for teaching materials. It is simply the matter of searching creatively. Information and Communications Technology has opened up unlimited access to authentic texts (web sites, traffic tickets, greeting cards, TV guides, newspapers, e-books, movies, DVDs) from the target language culture. All these make excellent tools for learners of language precisely because they are authentic. Through my lesson plan in professional development courses I tried to share with colleagues of how to incorporate authentic materials into teaching and learning and showcase lesson fragments with the statement of purpose, using authentic (1 auditory, 1print) materials such as newspapers and a stirring poem taken from http://www.storynory.com.
It is needles to say that authentic materials provide teachers with creative and practical ideas. They can easily exploit aal the different sections of newspapers, starting from headline charade, describing photo stories, TV guides to writing weather forecasts (SAnderson, 1999)
Small-scale survey results have shown that not all EFL teachers know that the use of authentic materials are multi-level (in case the teacher scaffolds, minimizes the difficulty) challenging and help learners bridge the gap between the classroom and outside the world. Another interesting evidence is that the majority accept a valuable part of authentic materials as they rank its importance as 3-4 out of 1-5 though they do not use in their everyday classes. The reasons are that they cannot use material other from syllabus, do not know how to incorporate them into teaching or are not interested in using them. There are now progressive steps away from textbook dependence and towards teacher autonomy for example, using video, and songs in teaching EFL. This will make them to become more familiar with the ways of finding appropriate tasks and designing them. It is really a time consuming process to be able to exploit authentic material. However, it is well worth of it, its advantage is salient in the ICT context. It is used as provider of language learning materials as well as a provider of authentic texts.

References

Sanderson, P. (1999). Using newspapers in the classroom. Cambridge University Press.