Monday, September 24, 2018

Leading Research on PBLA’s Impact

As many of you already know, Yuliya Desyatova is taking one for the team by devoting her PhD studies to researching the impact of Portfolio-based Language Assessment (PBLA) on our lives, our classrooms, our morale, our job satisfaction, our ability to be effective, and on our students' learning experience.

She has completed some analysis of the first tier of data gathered and has begun writing articles and giving presentations. In May of 2018, she was at the BC TEAL conference. The title of her presentation was Constraining Learning Spaces. Yuliya did a great job explaining the breakdown of responses from teachers, administrators and leads to her survey. She had a good data pool with 322 participants. Of these respondents, 72% had a somewhat unfavourable or very unfavourable view of PBLA.

Some emerging recommendations at that time included:
  • suspending mandatory implementation
  • engaging all stakeholders in an open and constructive dialogue under non-threatening conditions

In June of 2018, Yuliya spoke to the International Society for Language Studies at their conference at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. The title of this talk was When Inquiry is seen as Resistance to Change. Yuliya included the original document "The Change Cycle," which was used in early training at the top of the PBLA implementation chain and which includes the suggestion that those who do not get on board with the new way are "laggards" who "may need to be fired." She quoted many of the surveyed teachers, bringing light to the "dramatic increase in teacher stress" and "unpaid teacher workload."

Yuliya is not yet ready to make slides from these talks public, as she is still strengthening parts of her study and the recommendations that flow from it. There are still opportunities to hear Yuliya speak about her findings, though.

On October 3, 2018, Yuliya will be the keynote speaker at TESL London's annual wine and cheese event. She will be sharing results of her research.

Yuliya will be presenting a paper at the upcoming TESL Ontario Conference on Friday, November 2, 2018 from 11:20 to 12:20. If I am able to be at the conference this year, I will absolutely be one of the first in line to hear more about her findings and analysis of same.
F3J Teacher Learning in PBLA: a critical analysis Yuliya Desyatova - University of Toronto: Drawing on policy documents and empirical data from a larger project, the paper analyses how teacher learning is conceptualized and enacted in PBLA implementation. As suggested by the data, PBLA teacher training demonstrates a strong reliance on behaviourist and cognitive understandings while neglecting the sociocultural complexity of teacher learning. Category: Paper Level: Adult ESL/LINC,College/University, Elementary, ELT/SLT, Secondary Focus: Research Audience: All Participants

Yuliya's contact information is:

Yuliya Desyatova
PhD Student
Centre for Educational Research on Languages and Literacies
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning | OISE
RM 10-229, 252 Bloor St W | Toronto, ON | M5S 1V6

Twitter: @YuliyaESL


  1. Thank-you for sharing these important updates on Yuliya's research.

    1. You’re so welcome. Spread the word. KM

  2. Why is TUTELA hosting important sessions like this during the DAY TIME? Where is the integrity and transparency that was promised with PBLA? What do they have to hide?


    2h2 hours ago
    Don't forget to register for the PBLA Practice Review Cohort Two and Three Administrators IRCC Question and Answer Webinar. Oct 04 @ 11AM EDT with CCLB and IRCC

  3. Yuliya is also graciously repeating her presentation in a webinar on tutela to make it accessible to those of us outside Ontario. It's scheduled for November 21st at 7pm EST.

    Thanks, Yuliya!

  4. When TESL Certificate is no longer required by College Boreal.

    Training in and experience with Portfolio Based Language Assessment
    Superior proficiency in English
    Awareness of cultural diversity & sensitivity, anti-racism and anti-oppression theory
    Excellent cross cultural skills
    Positive approach to a multi-level teaching environment
    College diploma

    1. Really? Awareness of “anti-oppression theory” AND PBLA in the same breath?
      An oxymoron.
      College Boreal is in danger of losing its moral standing and integrity.
      Because of funder pressure?
      What evidence does College Boreal have that PBLA is not the epitome of the pedagogy of oppression? What evidence does it have of the benefits to learners (newcomers, immigrants)? Does College Boreal understanding and implementation of PBLA differ from that in other SPOs? In what ways?

      With regard to OCELT - when IRCC decided TESL association certification was no longer mandatory was this in response to the unharmonised certification criteria and processes across Canada and the issues between TESLCanada the large TESL associations or to the realisation that those same criteria (especially, but not only) the grandfathering process meant that assumptions that OCELT meant highly skilled expert teachers were unfounded? Or perhaps both?


Thank you for participating in this forum. Anonymous commenting is available, but is not intended to shield those taking pot shots at those of us challenging PBLA. If you are here to do that, please use your name.