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The Master's thesis is about how we develop the oral skills of the students in Norwegian. Even though one should work with oral skills in all subjects, Norwegian still has a very important role to play in the attainment of oral skills. Former research in this area reveals that there is limited systematic work with oral skills, and that an oral presentation is the normal accepted method. The students get little guidance while working and the feedback is uncritical and not very specific.
The predominant problems to be addressed in the thesis are: How can teachers develop an explicit and wider set of teaching methods when working with oral skills? How do we facilitate a safe learning environment so that the students participate confidently in oral activities? And which teaching methods and ways of assessment provide the best arena for learning according to the teachers and students?
The thesis is based on a sociocultural perspective on learning and the dialogical classroom (Dysthe). The theoretical part of the thesis also includes research on assessment and the effect various methods of assessment have, and a review of what the official pedagogical documents say about oral skills and assessment.
I have used qualitative research and action research in this thesis, and I have through interviews mapped teaching and assessment practises. I have also used selected group and individual interviews when collecting relevant data. Together with the other teachers in Norwegian we have experimented with various teaching and assessment methods in order to give the students a more explicit instruction in oral skills in the subject. At the same time, while working with evaluation, we have tried to improve how we support the student in the learning process. Teachers and students have been interviewed before and after the research period in order to obtain the best possible understanding of their experiences on the subject matter, and to compare results. Prior to the commencement of the process I wanted to map the teaching and assessment practise, and then I wanted to determine if the work resulted in changes that made us more aware when working with oral skills.
The results show that we are diligent as regards creating safe learning situations for the students through varied learning methods. There are, however, great variations in teaching methods in contradiction to former research on the subject. We need to attain a greater common understanding of the learning targets if we are to achieve a reliable and valid evaluation of oral skills in Norwegian.
The teachers use relatively much time on written evaluations on it’slearning. These assessments are primarily summative. There are several indications that the learning outcome will improve if one provides more formative evaluation. This is primarily enabled through close dialogue with the students during the learning process. The students maintain that conversations about a given subject is a method that gives them a wider understanding of the learning material than presentations. I also discovered that neither teachers nor students understand the value of peer-assessment and self-assessment when striving for more developed oral skills, and that the method is essential to achieve self-regulation learning processes.