Internal

Applying the Bell Foundation EAL Assessment Framework in practice: real world examples for teachers and parents.

This placement will aim to collect real world data to create a database of learning profiles of learners of English as an Additional Language (EAL) using the Bell Foundation EAL Assessment Framework. Volunteer teachers in local schools will collectively document the progress of children in primary and secondary education who are new to English in the period of a year (Jan 2021-Jan 2022).

Department: Technical Support Unit

Supervised by: Anna Tsakalaki

The Placement Project

This placement aims to address the lack of a consistent and easy to use database of learning profiles of pupils who arrive in the UK with little or no English and are placed in formal education. Educators and professionals in local educational authorities who work with this population often have no models with which to compare their language skills or lose track of these children’s language development after the initial assessment. In this study, we will use local volunteer teachers to create a database of real-world profiles of EAL learners at various stages of development using the Bell Foundation EAL Assessment Framework. Teachers will form a collaborative working group that will identify a number of eligible EAL learners and follow them for a year using the Assessment Framework to map their language development (oral and written English). They will document the changes made over time and build an applied, evidence-based database accessible to other teachers and parents. The teachers are already part of a collaborative community of practice working with EAL learners in local schools and are interested in assessment of their language skills. The student will help the PI to co-ordinate the working group, map the collected data against the framework, build the database and disseminate through a website or other accessible way to the wider public.

Tasks

The student is going to be guided by the PI in undertaking a range of tasks corresponding to key milestones of conducting exploratory research in Education. These include: 1)forming the research question(s) as informed by the needs of the participating teachers, 2) collating data and mapping with the Assessment Framework, 3) building the database or other visuals to represent the learning profiles, 4) collecting data from participants (if timings permit) and preparation of data for analysis (engagement in data analysis using NVivo, if the student is interested in this task), 5) interpreting and writing a synthesis of the results (draft report). The duration of the tasks will be agreed with the supervisor based on the student’s previous experience and confidence in doing parts of the tasks independently. It is anticipated that the whole placement will last for 6 weeks. The PI is going to provide guidance with regards to the content of each task and will make sure the student is offered relevant training in administration of the research tools and software for data analysis, if needed.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

No prior knowledge is essential but good knowledge of Microsoft Excel or SPSS or NVivo is desired. A strong interest in research in the field of language development, EAL, multilingualism, the use of technologies for learning purposes would be ideal for the role. Applicants may come from the Institute of Education, English Language and Applied Linguistics, Psychology and Clinical Languages, but students from other schools with an interest in the field are welcome to apply.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will have the opportunity to get involved in decision making, designing and conducting the specific type of research (exploratory and participatory research). They will get a first-hand experience of reviewing literature, designing and conducting participatory research and will develop their skills in co-ordinating the work of a group of professionals, analysing data and writing a report of the findings. Shared authorship or acknowledgement in the published report is an additional potential outcome for the student subject to the project reviews (see relevant field). The student will benefit directly from networking with other academic staff and research students at the Institute of Education working in the field of interest. All skills are transferable in the student’s own studies and future profession, and depending on their stage, could be transferable to a postgraduate research-based degree in Education, Applied Linguistics or Psychology.

Place of Work

Remotely until further COVID-19 guidance is provided. As far as we can foresee, this project can be completed entirely online. If circumstances change, we may consider face-to-face meetings on campus with the community of practice.

Hours of Work

9am-5pm but flexible

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 31 May 2021 - Friday 09 July 2021

How to Apply

The post will be advertised centrally on the UROP website between 22nd February and 9th April 2021. Students should send their CV and cover letter via email to a.tsakalaki@reading.ac.uk. Subject of the email must be ‘UROP application – Applied Assessment’. Successful candidates will then be invited to a short interview with the supervisor and an independent researcher from the Institute of Education.


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