A poster by MA-TESOL Student Kristina Navnykos, “Impact of Standardized Testing on EFL in Russia,” won third prize in the 2014 Graduate Scholars Forum.
The poster, developed in Professor Lilia Savova’s class on Language Assessment, aims at analyzing how the writing section of the Unified State Examination in English (USE in English) used in Russia as a school exit and college entrance exam affects teaching writing in high school (10th and 11th grades) in the Republic of Karelia, Russia.
The poster presents the findings from the study on the washback produced by the USE in English writing section. It demonstrates research findings from the relevant research done in several educational contexts, including South Korea and China, which mostly revealed teaching to the test as the main strategy in preparation for large-scale tests.
Among the washback effects revealed by foreign researchers are: (a) narrowing the curriculum; (b) discouraged students’ participation; and (c) explicit test preparation (Choi, 2008; Luxia, 2005; O, 2001; Yildrim, 2010).
Also, the poster sheds light on one of the reasons for negative washback, which is the high-stakes nature of a test (The test is perceived as "the passport for brighter future" (Yildrim, 2010, p. 113).
The study revealed a strong influence of the exam on teaching writing in Russian high school. The washback effects are: (1) The instruction is focused on practicing test tasks, in particular writing an informal letter and commenting on a statement; (2) Other genres are neglected; (3) Students are reported to be less creative and more grammar and structure concerned.
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