This week, Katherine Solomon, Learning and Teaching Manager at Bell English, writes about how to successfully integrate international students onto rolling enrolment courses

Rolling enrolment courses: how is student progress measured? 

The system of rolling enrolment – when new students arrive on a weekly basis and join existing classes – is now the norm in most UK EFL settings.

Assessing students on rolling enrolment courses can be a tricky situation to manage: students might be incorporated into classes where they are not familiar with work already covered; the level of the class might change on a weekly basis depending on who arrives and who leaves; and students may be studying for different reasons so motivations, wants and needs may be widely different.

At Bell we believe it is an ongoing process of seeking and interpreting evidence of where learners are, where they need to go next, and how they might be helped to get there.

Based on our experience at Bell, here are ten initiatives that can help meet the needs of students when they join a rolling course:

1) Pre-arrival testing

At Bell our online pre-arrival grammar and vocabulary test is given to students before joining the course. This test assesses students using the Common European Framework (CEF) and provides both the student and school with a grade indicting level. This is helpful for planning future classes and gives some initial feedback to students on their language knowledge, but it’s only the start!

2) Initial assessment

When students first arrive at the school they are given a test and we spend time assessing all four skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) as well as grammar and vocabulary before they are placed in a class. This gives a better indication of overall level and provides important information that can be passed on to the teacher to aid with their planning.

3) Week one assessment

At Bell, teachers reassess students’ level based on observations over the first week. This is helpful as students don’t always perform at their best on the first day due to nerves or sometimes jetlag. It is also quite common for students to do well on our computer adaptive grammar test but have problem producing the grammar and vocabulary in speaking and writing.

4) Weekly progress tests and quizzes

Weekly tests or mini quizzes are a useful tool for assessing learning and these are recorded in students’ learning journals. Doing a short test on a weekly basis provides the teacher with information on any strengths or gaps in student learning and they can then adapt their planning accordingly. It also provides students with weekly feedback on how they are doing and this can then be passed to parents and agents.

5) Regular tutorials

Tutorials are a useful way to set weekly objectives, discuss progress, address any areas to work on and make sure the student is happy.

6) Observation teaching

Assessment does not have to mean testing. Teachers make informal observations of students carrying out tasks in class and make notes of any common errors they make or things they would like to discuss with them in tutorials.

7) Encouraging self-evaluation

At Bell we ask students to reflect on the following questions after the weekly test on a Monday and we ask them to record this in their Learning Journal: What really made you think? What did you find difficult? What do you need more help with? What are you pleased about?

8) Encouraging self-assessment

By taking part in the process of assessment, students gain a deeper understanding of topics, the process of assessment and what they are doing in their own work. Students who recognise how to move forward are most likely to be motivated to learn.

9) Using a common assessment framework

It is important that all teachers are assessing from the same set of criteria, especially on rolling enrolment courses. Regular group moderation is a useful way to do this.

10)  Using comment feedback

Sometimes performance actually decreases when feedback is only focused on grades. Weaker students despair that they cannot improve and stronger students become complacent, so our teachers provide feedback that help students bridge the gap between where they are now and where they need to be. 

Katherine Solomon has worked as a teacher and a teacher trainer in the UK and across the world. She has worked in academic management for the last 7 years and has been with Bell since 2012.

Print This Page Close Window Archive