Helping an ELT teacher in assessing students' speaking skills: An action research

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Professional Development Centre, Karachi


The skill of speaking has been one of the most neglected areas in English language teaching (ELT) and this is true for its assessment as well which has always been a tedious and compromising task. The consequence of this negligence not only propels a negative backwash effect on teaching speaking skills but also adversely affects students' career chances particularly when they seek jobs or admission for further studies. The principal purpose of this study was to exhibit the ways to help an ELT teacher in assessing speaking skills (SS) by introducing an analytical marking rubric. Moreover, the study intended to embed summative and formative assessments using constructive feedback to improve students' SS in an EFL context. A qualitative paradigm under a participatory action research (PAR) endeavour was employed to conduct this study with an ELT teacher and Grade eight students in the context of Gilgit-Baltistan for a period of five weeks. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews, observations and, discussion. The findings at the pre-intervention stage revealed that there was a dearth of assessing SS - both in formative and summative ways. In the mock tests, the assessment of SS was rarely practiced. Summative exams, however, comprised a few marks, but constituted arbitrary marking, that is, without any marking rubrics. In the intervention stage, it was observed that the teacher's perception and practice were enhanced through introducing direct and semi-direct modes of assessing SS and by developing marking rubrics. The post-intervention stage yielded a comprehensive understanding of the teacher's practices in terms of assessing SS. This study recommends that an ELT teacher should focus on assessing SS summatively and formatively using marking rubrics. The examination department needs to ensure that all the language skills are given due importance in the end-term exams. Besides, the inclusion of assessment procedures in the English curriculum is deemed to be an important consideration to help guide teachers in assessing SS more effectively.

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