Getting to Know the Dimensions of Performance for Listen Actively

Take a minute now to look over the performance continuum for Listen Actively. You might find it easier to print out a version of the continuum and view it in hard copy. You may use the Word version to create customized tools for your program.

Section 1 — The Components of Performance

The continuum begins with the definition of the standard, one that remains the same for each level of performance. Including the definition as the starting point for each performance level description reminds us that the definition of the standard as an integrated skill process is consistent across the continuum.

Section 2 — Knowledge, Skills and Strategies

The second section is a list of the key knowledge, skills, and cognitive and metacognitive strategies to be mastered for proficient performance at each level. These are the primary behavioral indicators (or benchmarks) of proficient performance at each level.

Bullet 1 has to do with linguistic knowledge (such as grammar, usage, and vocabulary at the sentence level), textual knowledge (rules for longer texts and connected discourse, such as in conversations, explanations, instructions, and narratives), and knowledge of the topic. Students move from responding to short sentences and phrases at the lower levels to more complex grammar, vocabulary, and discourse at the higher levels.
Bullet 2 has to do with the strategic knowledge required to integrate and apply listening and speaking skills. At the lower levels students are primarily able to use short memorized language formulas to greet others, ask for repetition, indicate they have misunderstood, and repair communication breakdowns. As they move up the continua students become increasingly able to tailor their response to specific contexts and audiences.
Bullet 3 addresses the ability to communicate effectively to meet the purpose of the communication, including the ability to draw upon non-verbal and visual cues and background knowledge. At the lower levels only short responses to what has been heard may be required while at higher levels students may be required to take notes, analyze and organize what was heard and present it to others.

Section 3 — Fluency, Independence and Range

This section is a description of the fluency, independence, and ability to perform in a range of settings expected for proficient performance on the standard at each level.

  • Fluency of performance refers to the level of effort or ease required for an adult to participate in a listening activity and to retrieve and apply what he or she knows in increasingly less familiar and potentially stressful contexts.
  • Independence of performance reflects the extent to which the person needs guidance in completing the listening task. At lower levels texts may be adjusted to make understanding simpler, increase opportunities for repetition and clarification, and for the provision of visual supports and listening aides. At higher levels the content and speed of delivery is usually not adjusted for non-native speakers and communication situations are more unstructured.
  • Range of performance refers both to how well a person can use a skill and whether the person can transfer learning from one context to another. This includes both a range of kinds of listening tasks and a range of contexts for the tasks as well as the familiarity with the audience and the complexity of the task.

Section 4 — Examples of Proficient Performance

This section has examples of the kinds of purposeful applications of the standard that can be accomplished by an adult who is proficient at each level. These examples represent only a few of many listening activities that could be developed by teachers and others.

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