Outline• Nature of Reading – Tests have been created based on the beliefs of researchers and practitioners regarding reading• Strategies in Assessing Reading
Nature of Reading• Reading Skills (Davis, 1968)- 8 skills – Word Meanings – Inferences – Paraphrasing – Recognizing Writer’s Purpose, attitude, tone and mood – Weaving Ideas together – Following Structure of Passage – Identify writer’s technique
Nature of Reading• Munby (1978): Reading Microskills (19 skills) – Deducing meaning and use of unfamiliar lexical items – Skimming – Scanning – Extracting relevant points from a text selectively – Summarizing – Main Idea and supporting details – Conceptual Meaning
Other Views• Lunzer et al (1979): No evidence that distinct separate skills exist; Reading consists of one single, global integrated aptitude.• Alderson (1990): At least part of the reading process probably involves the simultaneous and variable use of different and overlapping skills.
Other Views• Matthews (1990): “Reading skills” are merely aspects of knowledge. – Speed and flexibility needs to be tapped in reading tests.• Reading has two components: decoding and comprehension. – Comprehension skills also lies in the field of listening, not just reading. Thus, these are linguistic skills, not reading skills.
Other Views• Carver’s Simple View of reading – Word recognition skills – Reading rate or reading fluency – Problem-solving comprehension skills• Carver: Reading speeds increase with reading development.
Other Views• Grabe (1991): 6 components in the fluent reading process – Automatic recognition skills – Vocabulary and structural knowledge – Formal discourse structure knowledge – Content/World background knowledge – Synthesis and evaluation skills/strategies – Metacognitive knowledge and skills monitoring
Other Views• Abdullah (1994): Subskills in Critical Reading – Evaluate deductive inferences – Evaluate inductive inferences – Evaluate soundness of generalization – Recognize hidden assumptions – Identify bias in statements – Recognize author’s motives – Evaluate strength of arguments
Guidelines• No best method for testing reading.• No single test method can fulfill all the varied purposes for which we might test.• Objective methods can be supplemented by subjective evaluations.
Assessment Techniques• Multiple Choice (four-option) – Most common technique in the 1960s – Need to design excellent distractors in options• 1970s: Cloze Tests – Easy to prepare and score – Validity is still being questioned
Current Trends• Multiple Techniques (E.g. in IELTS) *Multiple methods used for each passage, not just one – Multiple choice – Short-answer questions – Sentence completion – Notes/Summary/Diagram/Flow chart/Table completion – Matching lists/phrases – Yes/No/Not given – Classification
Cloze Test• Deleting from selected texts every n-th word (n being between 5 to 12) and asking the test taker to restore deleted word.• One or two sentences in the beginning and end provide contextual support.• *Gap Filling Tests: Words are removed on a rational basis (e.g. removing content words: test overall meaning of text; removing function words: test grammatical sensitivity)
Multiple Choice Questions• Students can be coached to become test wise when it comes to MCQ.• Constructing MCQs is a skilled and time consuming activity.• Tester does not know why the test taker responded the way he or she did.• Guessing
Cloze Test• Research shows that varying the deletion procedure creates various versions of a cloze tests and thus produce different test results.
Other Objective Techniques• Multiple Matching• Ordering Tasks – Difficult to construct satisfactorily – Test Constructors are obliged to accept unexpected orderings or to rewrite the text to make only order possible.• True/False – Guessing problem• 3 Category Option: E.g. Right/Wrong/Doesn’t Say
Ordering Task Example (taken from a story)A. it was called ‘The Last Waltz’B. The street was in total darknessC. because it was one and he and Richard had learnt at schoolD. Peter looked outside (FIRST)E. he recognized the tuneF. and it seemed desertedG. he thought he heard something whistling
Possible Answer (1)D-G-E-C-A-B-FPeter looked outside. He thought he heard something whistling. He recognized the tune because it was one he and Richard had learnt at school. It was called ‘The Last Waltz’. The street was in total darkness and it seemed deserted.
Possible Answer (2)D-B-F-G-E-C-APeter looked outside. The street was in total darkness and it seemed deserted. He thought he heard something whistling. He recognized the tune because it was one he and Richard had learnt at school. It was called ‘The Last Waltz’.
Other Reading Tests• Editing Tests – Passages with errors and candidate has to identify them• Short-Answer Tests – Bachman and Palmer (1996): Limited Production Response Type – To be able to interpret students’ responses to see if they really understood in contrast to MCQ where there is no justification. – Challenge is to remove ambiguities to the question. Pre-testing with colleagues is necessary.
Other Reading Tests• Free-Recall Tests – Students are asked to read a text, put it aside and then write down everything they remember from the text. • Bachman and Palmer (1996): Extended Production Response Type – Problem is that scoring templates for these are time consuming. For example, It takes 25-50 hours to develop a scoring template for a 250-word text
Other Reading Tests• Summary Tests – Students read a text and are then required to summarize the main ideas of the whole text or a part, or those ideas in the text that deal with a given topic. • Scoring is problematic and can be subjective – Problems are reduced if the summary can relate to a real-world task where clearly some textual information is more important than other information.
Other Reading Tests• Gapped Summary – Students read a text, and then read a summary of the same text, from which key words have been removed. Task is to restore the missing words.• Information Transfer Techniques – Task is to identify in the target text the required information and then to transfer it to a table, map, etc.
Real Life Test Tasks• Tests lack connection to real life texts• One strategy as a test constructor is to get real-world examples of text as ask yourself: – What might a normal reader do with a text like this? – What sort of self-generated questions might the reader try to answer?