A sociocultural analysis of teacher assessment literacy development: The promises and pitfalls of taking a Vygotskian perspective on assessment

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Teacher assessment literacy has recently received considerable interest in the language assessment community as evidenced by the rising number of related publications, particularly those in the special issues of Language Testing (2013) and Papers in Language Testing and Assessment (2017). This growing body of literature has demonstrated that teachers are often poorly prepared to perform their assessment duties and that teachers tend to acquire their assessment literacy on the job (Crusan, Plakans, & Gebril, 2016; DeLuca & Johnson, 2017; Lam, 2015; Lam, 2019; Vogt & Tsagari, 2014; Xu & Brown, 2016). Nevertheless, how teachers' experiential learning of assessment unfolds remains relatively under-studied (DeLuca & Johnson, 2017; Xu & Brown, 2016; Yan, Zhang, & Fan, 2018). It is this crucial gap that my PhD project aims to bridge. Since recent studies (Inbar-Lourie, 2017; Yan et al., 2018; Lam, 2019; Xu & Brown, 2016) suggest that teacher assessment literacy development is a complex and context-bound process involving numerous sociocultural factors, I have adopted Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, particularly the genetic method and the concept of perezhivanie (lived experience) as the project's theoretical framework. Guided by these two sociocultural theory tools, my project has sought to investigate significant lived experiences (perezhivaniya) that mediated the participating teachers' on-the-job learning of assessment, the interaction of environmental and personal factors in those significant experiences (perezhivaniya), and the often overlooked emotional dimension of the assessment literacy development process. Regarding methods, the study has employed the multiple case study design that involves multiple sources of data (interviews, classroom observation, stimulated recall, and think-aloud protocol) collected from six novice Vietnamese EFL teachers in two phases with each lasting three months (the first phase in 2019 and the second scheduled for 2021). The data will first be analysed simultaneously with data collection as recommended in Merriam and Tisdell (2016) and then re-examined when the entire data gathering process has concluded. As such, the analysis process will start inductively and become progressively deductive, and within-case analysis will be conducted first, followed by cross-case examination. Once completed, this project will add to the limited literature that examines teacher assessment literacy development from a sociocultural perspective and offer crucial implications for education of both pre-service and in-service language teachers. In this work-in-progress presentation, after a quick overview of the entire project, I will showcase the promise of a sociocultural perspective on teacher assessment literacy with some preliminary findings from the first round of data conducted in late 2019, discuss some challenges of framing teacher assessment literacy from a sociocultural perspective, and elaborate on my initial attempt to address those challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe LTRC/ALTAANZ Online Celebratory Event 2020 - Online
Duration: 19 Nov 2020 → …


ConferenceThe LTRC/ALTAANZ Online Celebratory Event 2020
Period19/11/20 → …
Internet address


  • language assessment literacy
  • teacher education
  • sociocultural theory
  • narrative inquiry


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