4.4.5. The Influence of Speech Style on Assessment

To what extent do the S.E.B.'s assessments appear to be influenced by the co- operative / non-co-operative / competitive style of talk used by the pupil?

From the bias diagnosed in the GRC towards competitive skills, and the lack of attention given to co- operative skills, it might be expected that a pupil demonstrating competitive skills would be marked higher, all other things being equal, than a pupil demonstrating co-operative skills. There was however no evidence in this study that there is a correlation between speech style and grade. Indeed, the girls in Group I, B5 in Group III, and G5 in Group IV are all singled out for criticism for their competitive behaviour.

The key trigger in the process of assigning grades appears to be verbosity, as discussed in 4.3.1 above. This is not unrelated to the style used by pupils, since I have suggested that longer turns are to be found in non-co-operative discussions, and longer turns appear to result in higher grades, as in the cases of G5, G10, and G11.

None of the pupils assessed by the S.E.B. displayed exclusively co- operative features so it is not possible to ascertain whether a pupil doing so would be penalised for taking shorter speaking turns. Comments made about G14 by teachers cited in Chapter Five did suggest that some teachers perceived the quality of her contribution to be low specifically because of her use of co-operative features. However, in the case of G14, her marks did not indicate that she was being marked down for her co- operative style. This aspect of the study remained inconclusive. In the next chapter, I investigate in more depth the issue of how teachers assess.


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