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“Informal Methods of Evaluation” Article Analysis

The article by Yetta Goodman is a reflection on the importance of interpretive evaluation to both the student and the teacher when it comes to learning and teaching in the English or Language Arts classrooms. These methods of evaluation are very crucial to the learning process when it comes to language development (Goodman, p. 602).

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The key concepts that Goodman is trying to address include the following:

  1. Scanty research into interpretive evaluation
  2. Providing an adequate theoretical rationale into why she feels that interpretive research is essential
  3. The importance of legitimizing research into interpretive evaluation techniques and how they can be used
  4. Suggestions into the activities that can be done in doing research into interpretive research

The reasons for scanty research

According Goodman (p. 602), there is a misguided belief that interpretive evaluation methods are usually informal. She believes that this downplays the importance of qualitative research quoting Erickson’s views on using the term interpretive instead as a, “… central research interest (among a range of qualitative researchers) in human meaning in social life and in its elucidation and exposition by the researcher” (p.119).

Some of the reasons she identifies include:

  1. The belief that it is informal and thus subjective such that it has no value or is not to be taken seriously.
  2. The idea that it is time consuming and too difficult so it does not call for researchers to expend their energy into unrecognizable work that has very few rewards in terms of financial backing.
  3. The research into interpretive evaluation requires a lot of knowledge into language processes and calls for a lot of input by the researcher. This takes requires a lot of work by the researcher in data collection, analysis and interpretation which can be a deterrent to undertaking the research (Erickson 119).

The rationale behind need for research in interpretive evaluation

According to Goodman, teachers are in an incessant process of evaluation when it comes to the classroom environment (p.602). They are therefore involved in self evaluation when they make instructions based on these evaluations. Some of these evaluations are based on unexamined views of their students’ abilities (p.602).

She basically calls for research into this field as a means of helping teachers reflect on these methods in order to become aware and thus more reflective on how they respond to their students. This will also enforce the evaluation done by those aware of their interpretive evaluation by giving it legitimacy. Reflective thinking includes acknowledgement of significance of the nature of error, the importance of an environment that promote taking risks in language use and asking questions that promote the development of their students.

Giving legitimacy to on-going research into interpretive evaluation

The main concepts presented here are the collaborative efforts of research by using the teacher as both the researcher and the teacher. The teacher can make reflective detailed reports of the evaluation methods used and since it calls for a lot of fieldwork, the teacher is better placed to give this intensive field report.

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Goodman concludes this section by calling for more research into the influences of interpretive evaluation on teaching and learning in language arts.

Suggestions for research

Goodman identifies the following methods of interpretive evaluation that should be researched:

  • Anecdotal records such as learning logs and journals which are a good tool for self evaluation for the teacher and the student; the student can verify the teacher’s perceptions and the teacher can in turn assess their teaching environment and how they respond to the students (p. 605).
  • Kidwatching which involves careful observations in class and general reflective thinking. Research into it can be insightful for curriculum development and instructions given by teachers in teaching although this may be difficult seeing as it is usually unconscious for most teachers.
  • Questioning and interactions is an assessment of the nature of questions and how they can be better placed to provide insight into language development and learning.
  • Conferences and how these can provide a platform for closer interactions.

Teachers can apply these principles in their pedagogy by being more aware of importance of interpretive evaluation and using the above suggestions to reinforce the methods they already use.

Works Cited

Erickson, Frederick. “Qualitative methods in Research on Teaching”. Handbook of Research on Teaching. 3rd ed. 1986. Web.

Goodman, Yetta. “Informal Methods of Evaluation.” Handbook of research on teaching the English Language Arts. 2nd ed. Ed. James Flood, Dianne Lapp, James R. Squire, and Julie M. Jensen. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003. 600-608. Web.

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