Before beginning… Think of the last assessment you gave in the language class you teach. What format was the test? (Written, oral, online, etc.) Was it effective? Fair? Representative of what and how you teach? What was the best aspect of the assessment? What would you change about the assessment? How did students react to the assessment? How did you prepare the students for the assessment?
Introduction to assessment “Assessment” is an umbrella term we use to measure students’ abilities. Formal and informal Consider: Why you’re assessing? What are you trying to find out? How will the assessment tool assess? What forms of assessment do we use? What other forms of assessment are there?
Sample test When you took the sample English test, Which questions were easier? Why? Which questions were more difficult? Why? Which types of questions have you used in tests in your class? Which questions are most difficult to develop? Which questions are most difficult to grade?
Types of assessment Direct assessment tries to measure what a test taker is doing as a sample of productive language. For example, having students discuss a topic while the teacher observers and rates their performances would be a direct assessment. Indirect assessment tries to measure language through means that are not directly productive. For example, indirect assessment might ask students to recognize the correct verb form, but not actually measure their ability to produce it or use it. Performance assessment includes tasks in which test takers provide a sample of language, such as a written text or spoken interview, that elicits the ability being measured.
Types of assessment Item is often used to talk about test questions, particularly questions that ask for short answers or selected responding. Constructed-response questions are tasks in which test takers create an answer in a productive way. For example, writing a sentence or being interviewed might be constructed response tasks. Selected-response items are test questions in which test takers choose a correct answer from a list of provided options. Multiple choice questions are common selected-response items. These are also usually considered objective as there should be one correct answer.
Types of assessment In groups, discuss the following types of assessment (or things related to assessment). Describe the item and consider its advantages and disadvantages. Multiple choice Fill-in-the-blank Cloze test Word bank
Direct assessment Challenges to direct assessment Language level Feedback Score interpretation
Lower language levels Some solutions to help beginning level students with direct assessment are: use L1 in instructions and feedback write clear or familiar tasks prior to the assessment let student practice or model the task only ask for short performances
Feedback Some ways to provide better feedback in direct assessment include: using a scoring rubric sharing the rubric with students before the test having students use the rubric to rate their own or peers performance having students design the rubric rating selectively rather than providing feedback on everything
Score interpretation Many factors can impact a student’s performance on direct assessment: creativity nervousness personality traits … as well as language knowledge To ensure accurate scores: allow students to practice or warm-up before the test, limit time pressure, give choices when possible, pilot tasks carefully, isolate skills if desired, and collect multiple measures
Key ideas in assessment Validity in language assessment refers to how well the inferences we can make from the results of our measure match the construct or feature of language that we want to measure. Reliability refers to the consistency of an assessment. It can be internal (the questions in the test) or external (the context of the testing situation). Assessment for Learning (AfL) is the idea that learners should be part of the assessment process.
HANDS-ON PRACTICE You will receive a copy of an old (i.e., not current!) test for a beginning class in the language you teach. In a group of two or three, review this test and be prepared to discuss: Is the test direct or indirect? What types of items are on the test? What are the strengths of the test? What are the weaknesses of the test? How do you think students would fare on this test? Why?