Malaysia is looking up to Macedonian formative assessment
The International Conference Assessment for learning in 21 century held in Ohrid, May 23-24, 2011, was an excellent opportunity for sharing good practice and tools for implementing assessment to enhance student learning in the classroom through a mix of invited multinational speakers, contributed papers, posters and engaging discussions.
Roslina Binti Yaakub, coming all the way from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, joined the conference. She is a former teacher, currently employed in the Teacher Training Institute and working on a research for teachers’ teaching assessment conceptions (TTAC) in Malaysia. This is her second visit to the Balkans, following the one a few years back when she visited Slovenia to see how formative assessment is being implemented there. That has been an encouragement for Roslina to include comparative element in her study, by validating a questionnaire for teachers’ teaching assessment conceptions that she has developed and compare the Malaysian school assessment to the ones practiced in Slovenia and Macedonia.
During a short interview, she shared with us the impressions from the Conference, as well as the experiences she feels need to be shared between Macedonia and Malaysia regarding the possibilities for formative assessment in the two different educational systems.
“This conference is an excellent opportunity for networking and sharing experience. I definitely feel that Malaysia needs these kind of gatherings, and if we organize one in the near future, Macedonian experts would be much welcomed there to share their knowledge on the topic”, Roslina said.
Coming from a country where no formative assessment exists, the conference will be very useful for Roslina. Roslina also said: “We, in Malaysia, do not have formative assessment so I came here to see how it works. I am the first person doing formative assessment in the country. I am into formative assessment because that is something you do during the lesson; it helps you find out what’s lacking in students’ learning.” In order to see how formative assessment implements in practice, after the Conference she visited PS “Kuzman Josifovski Pitu”.
Primary Education Project also provided questionnaire filled out by 500 primary teachers in Macedonia, investigating teachers’ conceptions on assessment. These will help Roslina in validating a questionnaire on teachers’ teaching assessment conception in two cultural and educational systems: Macedonian and Malaysian. Regarding the results from the Macedonian survey, Roslina pointed out: “At the moment, my professor back in Malaysia is very interested in formative assessment. I would share these results with him because he has ideas about formative assessment, we would take actions, for example: organize seminars and try to make the higher institutions go with the initiative.”
Roslina’s enthusiasm and will to improve the assessment in her home country are very strong. She feels that formative assessment practiced in Macedonian schools can be a model for the schools in Malaysia: “When I was telling people that I’m going to Macedonia for an assessment conference, they were asking me: Why do you go so far? Why don’t you go to some nearby country instead? But, nearby countries have only theories, while here, the formative assessment is being implemented in practice. Even though Malaysian students achieve very high results on international assessments, I think that implementing formative assessment will help for further improvement of students’ achievements. That’s why I travelled to here, to see how it’s been done and share the knowledge back in my country.”-said Roslina at the end of our interview, happy to be part of the International Conference in Macedonia.
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Roslina Binti Jaakuub from Malaysia in Ohrid presented her measurement instrument on the Teacher Teaching Assessment Conceptions
“If you want to switch from summative to formative assessment, you need to start the change from yourself. The rest will follow”-the message that Roslina shared with us.
‘‘In my country the people are very competitive. The teacher is considered to be successful once his/her students get all A’s. The school is also considered to be more successful if the percentage of good grades is higher. That is why everybody fights to get straight A’s.
I, on the other hand am more concerned about everybody learning, not only to get a good grade.’’-said Roslina