Presentation, evaluation, and feedback in EFL
[Slide Show: title]
Research has indicated that peer feedback, combined with presentation
activities, is significantly effective (Lindquist, 1991; Johnson, 1997; Xia, 1997). Of
particular importance is the immediacy of feedback (Koberl, 1997). This
presentation is aimed at reporting (1) a model of EFL/ESP class for non-English
major students, (2) how the accelerated feedback is made possible, and (3) the
student evaluation of this procedure.
Presentation activities have recently been cast light on in EFL classrooms as an
innovative means of developing students’ skills in public speaking and hence
promoting their motivation in English. The Association of Private Universities for
Information Education (Shijo^kyo^) is in process of publicising an advisory
report for promoting CALL in the next decade. In this report it is emphasised that
attempts to encourage students to express themselves should be introduced as
part of the English curriculum in higher education. There is an increasing number
of practices of presentation activities in EFL classrooms, as you may witness in
various journal articles and conference papers.
However, the success of this new enterprise seems limited for two reasons.
Firstly, the coherence of the curriculum is almost nonexistent, and virtually any
innovative activity is bound to end up with a private affair in the class. Secondly,
the teachers are not well aware of the mechanisms and effectiveness of the
procedure; not infrequently, class is over, the students have spoken, and the
teacher is fed up with self-satisfaction.
It is this second aspect that I shall focus on in today’s presentation. The key
idea is the immediacy of feedback. Using a classroom LAN and relevant software
you can provide an immediate feedback of the audience evaluation at the
moment when his/her presentation is over.
Students are 1st year at a private university in Tokyo area, studying life science
and environmental science. There are 86 students in total, in 4 classes. They are
taught reading, conversation, and CALL, which I am responsible for. The CALL
class is taught 45 seconds at a time a week, some 30 weeks a year. The students
are told to use English as a sole means of communication throughout the class.
They are supposed to bring their laptop computer, Apple’s iBook, which they
bought on admission to the university. The classroom is equipped with ethernet
jacks under the table for all students. This local area network is controlled by
Apple’s Macintosh WorkServer in a distant room. [Slide Show: photo of
The purpose of this class is to promote literacy in basic information technology
with the aid of Macintosh’s ingeneous educational capabilities. After groping for
possibilities for three years I have come to the conclusion that the best activity by
which this objective is achieved is making presentations. This implies a mixture
of skills and channels, reception and production, classroom involvement and
learner autonomy. Since the total time is limited they are asked to make
approximately three presentations a year, starting with self-introduction and
ending with a group project on mini research. The presentations are made in
English individually or by groups on a topic given by the teacher or chosen by the
students. [Video: class] [Slide Show: slide show samples (3)]The presenter
uses Claris Works’ slide shows that the student has created. The rest of the
students, as audience, can watch the slide shows projected on the screen and
made visible by each iBook laptop. The audience’s job is not just to watch the
presentation; but they are asked to evaluate it on a HyperCard sheet on the same
laptop screen. Each time the marking is complete the evaluation scores are sent
to the server and processed automatically after having collected all the data. The
result of the evaluation is shown by the graphs which the presenter can obtain
from the server. [Show an example graph] At the moment this part of data
accumulation is made manually, but in the next session of presentation in
October I plan to run an AppleScript which automatise it so that the result can be
obtained in less than a minute.
[Handout p.2: peer evaluation format] The evaluation sheet contains eight
items, each at a four-point scale:
1. Clear voice?
2. Enough eye contact?
3. Agreeable greetings?
4. Understandable or plain enough?
6. Helpful slide shows?
7. Good preparation and enthusiasm?
The first three items concern the formal clarity. The second three, items 4 to 6,
question the content, and the last two items the overall impression.
Additionally, the audience write a free comment on a piece of paper. This will
be collected and redistributed to the speaker.
Occasionally the teacher makes some comments on a small collection of video
recordings as to what particular action is to be evaluated and how to improve it
(cf. Katchen, 1995). For example, students are at first hesitant and nervous in
front of the audience and cannot make themselves comprehensible. But the
video showing of other performers along with my instruction and modelling of
what constitutes a clear speech seems to encourage them, if not immediately,
and the next performance is always much better than before.
[Slide Show: process chart] The mechanism of drawing bar graphs is
summarised as follows.
1. Collect information from the audience. This is sent manually by each of the
audience students to the server. For each presentation feedback data are posted
in a single folder.
2. Make a table of feedback data. An AppleScript helps create a tab separated
document with the same number of lines as the number of received feedback
documents. Then it sends the data set to a spreadsheet in a ClarisWorks
3. Draw the graphs. Once a data set has been received in a spreadsheet it is
reflected by the two kinds of bar graphs.
4. Save the file. The new document is saved as a PICT document in the server
with the name of the presenter’s ID so that she/he can pick it up with AppleShare
at any time.
[Demonstration of sample processing]
[Slide Show: sample feedback (4)]
At the end of the previous semester students were asked to write their open-
2. Results and discussion
[Handout p.3: questionnaire format]
[Handout p.3: result of questionnaire]
summary table for the questionnaire
Although the emphasis of my questionnaire was on the graphical feedback
system, a majority of students wrote about the classroom activity. Overall,
however, students are in favour of the class including the graphical feedback.
Positive reactions totalled 69, negative 8. Note that due to overlapping of answer
categories the total sum of these numbers does not match the number of
response sheets. Most of the students find the activity useful for their future
improvement in the particular items of evaluation criteria, eg., eye-contact and
As to the graphical feedback, there were more positive reactions than negative:
positive, 28, negative, 8. Students find the feedback graphs useful and interesting.
But no mention was made about the immediacy of feedback.
An interesting point about their responses is their awareness of the audience
observation. Here are some examples:
• “It is interesting to see other people react to me this way.”
• “I was rated low in the part where I didn’t work hard. The audience were
listening more objectively than I thought.”
• “I had realised I didn’t have an enough eye-contact. It was made clear from the
Because the peer evaluation is available immediately after the presentation, the
procedure is expected to raise their self-awareness as well as peer-awareness,
which in turn will contribute to a better presentation at the next opportunity.
One important concern about the peer feedback is the deployment of judging
criteria. With my practice here all the criterion items except for those of general
impression had been iteratively emphasised and applied in the previous practice
presentations. In terms of learner autonomy the choice and phrasing of these
items might be negotiated between the teacher and students (Harris, 1997; Xia
1997). However, since no previous knowledge and value judgement about these
items is provided at the outset, the negotiation, if any, should be carried out at
some point before the final evaluation.
Giving judgements itself is educational, apart from being a source of the peer
feedback. The students will learn by which criteria they are evaluated, and
accordingly they behave in order to comply with these criteria. One teacher’s
judgement may not be reliable and trustworthy and therefore not taken seriously
by the students, but the judgement by the entire audience can be either
encouraging or detrimental.
The students are quite aware of this reality. As a result, some coward ones
tend, unawares, to give neutral judgements in order to avoid the commitment.
This would enhance the so-called error of central tendency to choose neutral
answers in multiple-point judgements (Oppenheim, 1992: 233). One of the
students remarked: “I was quite happy to find the audience were generous in their
judgement.” And so he was.
There are two means to solve this problem. One is the number of scale points,
another is the phrasing of criteria. First, we should use an even-number scale
instead of an odd-number one. Considering the cognitive difficulty that multiply
as the number of points increase, 4-point scale is a safe magnitude for untrained
learners. It will result in a smaller size of error of miscategorisation than when
using a 6-point scale. Second, phrasing of criterion points does affect the
distrubution of responses. In order to scatter the distrubution, “Almost yes/no”
should be included in the extreme categories.
The qualitative variety, apart from quantitative, of the information in the
feedback that the presenters receive is basically the same as the original format
that she fills in as audience. What she receives in the current framework is the
numeric information added to each criterion. However, it is our hope and future
task to generate some new comments based on the analysis of the collected data
(Nagata & Swisher, 1995), so the presenter will receive such comments as “Relax
and be confident” or “Practice before you perform.”
To sum, if feedback is provided effectively, it has a positive influence on learner
motivation (Xia, 1997). From the teacher’s point of view, peer evaluation keeps
the audience busy, attentive to the activity, and makes them learn what is
demanded of them. Since motivation is almost exclusively the only factor of
continuous L2 development (Yoshida, 2000), we should realise the significance of
this learner-centred approach and apply it more often in our classes.
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Johnson, Orin G. 1997. “Enhancing basic public speaking skills through the use of creative in-class
activities that require thorough audience analysis & adaptation as a part of general speech preparation.”
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southern States Communication Association (Savannah, GA,
April 2-6, 1997).
Katchen, Johanna E. 1995. “Speaking skills for the sciences.” Paper presented at the Annual International
Conference of the Institute of Language in Education (Hong Kong, December 13-15, 1995).
Koberl, Rachel. 1997. “Presentable Presentations.” ESP-Spectrum, (Slovakia), 13, 12-17.
Lindquist, Judy. 1991. “‘No, Mother, I Don’t Speak Japanese’: learning to teach in an ESL classroom.”
Insights into Open Education, 24(4), 9.
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learning.” Foreign Language Annals, 28(3), 337-347.
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