The spirit and the letter A typology of institutional language policies
This article is based on research currently underway designed to identify the determining factors in the evaluation of the written language in students’ assignments and exams. It summarizes the results of an exploratory survey that could help colleges clarify their specifications in matters of language evaluation. After analyzing the principles and requirements of the PIEA and Politique sur l’emploi et la valorization de la langue française supplied by 43 public francophone CEGEPs, the authors were able to establish a typology of six approaches, ranging from the most integrated to the most decentralized. On the basis of this typology, they observe that evaluating language competency usually involves losing points for making errors, whereas other formulas could prove more rewarding. They also note a disparity between approaches, which results in practical differences from one CEGEP to the other, within the same institution and with even the same program. Unfortunately, this weakens the coherence of the message sent to students. The authors stress the importance accorded to the quality of student written language by teachers in general; they add that future research results could make it possible to identify the types of institutional approaches that lead to the most positive practices in terms of assessing language competency.
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