Data Collection

Three Arabic and two English teachers of the two G 8 classes in both schools as well as the two principals were interviewed seven times. Classes were observed for a whole month (two weeks per school) in the two Greater Cairo reform schools located in two major suburbs, which are within 30 to 40 kilometers of Cairo City center. Data was collected in real-life classrooms through classroom observation for a whole week in each school. It could be, therefore, assumed that the lessons observed reflect routine instructional practices (Table 8.1).

The instruments were piloted before operational data collection. One principal, one Arabic teacher, and one English teacher were interviewed to ensure the soundness of the interview protocol. One Arabic class and one English class were observed to ensure the soundness of the classroom observation protocol.

Qualitative data generated from interviews and classroom observation was analyzed based on the thematic analysis framework proposed by Braun and Clarke (2006), who propose that “a theme captures something important about the data in relation to the research question and represents some level of patterned response or meaning within the data set” (p. 82). Following the six-step process described by Braun and Clark, I familiarized myself with the data, generated initial codes using open coding, and then identified, reviewed, and refined the themes.

Table 8.1 Number of G 8 students at the two schools

Class

Obour School

6 October School

8A

12

21

8B

13

22

Total

25

43

130 Wael Amer Results

LOA Techniques Used by Egyptian Teachers

Thematic analysis of the data indicated that a number of LOA tasks are used during the course of instruction. LOA is utilized via a variety of assessment tools and techniques in the reform schools. One principal maintained that “our teachers utilize a variety of tools for LOA purposes, including questioning, presentations, projects, and self- and peer- assessment.” The LOA tasks most frequently stated by Arabic and English teachers were: “questioning techniques, presentations, home-work, self- and peer-assessment, projects, and group work.” Less frequent examples included “assignments, role-play, and observing students’ performance by the end of lessons.” It is apparent, therefore, that there is a balance between assessment of conceptual understanding and development as measured by questioning techniques and written assignments and performance assessment as captured by presentations, role-play, and projects. However, formative and summative assessments may sometimes overlap. As an English teacher maintained: “sometimes we use formative assessment to prepare students for the final test.”

Approaching LOA from the perspective of design and planning, summative assessment was found to assume more weight than formative assessment in the schools’ grading scheme. Both principals maintained that “the summative test takes 60 percent of the total grade.” Teachers, as well, confirmed that 60 percent of the grade is dedicated to the summative test while 10 percent is dedicated to a project. While teachers agreed on the other components of the grading scheme (a quiz and classroom participation), they assigned different weights for these assessment tools. A quiz weighs 10 percent in English and 20 percent in Arabic, while classroom participation weights 20 percent in English and 10 percent in Arabic. Such focus on summative assessment was attributed by a principal to the overall school readiness, and to the fact that teachers are still in the middle of the training process in LOA theory and practice. According to her, “we’re not yet ready to give more weight to LOA. Teachers are still receiving training to master it. However, they do improve year after year.” Data generated through classroom observation validates interview data to a great extent. The LOA tasks cited by teachers and principals during interviews were operationalized in classes, repeatedly, in different lessons. In terms of the frequency of administration, brainstorming, questioning techniques, discussion tasks, pair and group work, and classroom exercises came first, as traced in all observed classes of both subjects in both schools. Read aloud exercises came second in terms of frequency in Arabic classes (83 percent), with relatively less frequency in English classes (50 percent). Self- and peer-assessment and feedback were frequently used in conjunction with read aloud exercises and the other performance-based tasks. However, they focused more on error correction than on other fluency-related criteria. Short two-minute presentations were delivered by students in 33 percent of English classes (4 classes out of 12) and in 17 percent of Arabic classes (2 classes out of 12). Students engaged in role-play to assess conversation performance in 25 percent of both English and Arabic classes.

Therefore, a variety of LOA tasks had been implemented in each and every English and Arabic class in the two schools. Teacher-student, student-student, and student-teacher feedback had also been demonstrated in all Arabic and English classes, with an apparent tendency to focus on error correction pertaining to pronunciation, semantics, and grammar.

 
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