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How to assess grammar       CHAPTER 5First, the characteristics of a grammar test can have an impact among test-takers. Fo...
Some characteristics of grammatical test tasks should be focus on “to provide as useful ameasurement as possible of studen...
The “Learning-oriented assessment of grammar” was born in order to make grammartests more consistent with classroom goals,...
discover by themselves (positive or negative evidence). Considering that feedback is quiteimportant in this approach teach...
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  1. 1. How to assess grammar CHAPTER 5First, the characteristics of a grammar test can have an impact among test-takers. For instancea test-taker can be better on multiple choices, or on essays, etc.The purpose of grammar test is “to obtain and often provide information about how well astudent knows grammar in order to convey meaning in some situation where the target languageis used”The main goal of a grammar test is to communicate in real life using target language situations.One of the most relevant issue that we need to consider is “if we understand both the nature ofgrammatical ability and the nature of the test task we use, we will able to account for the effectof method on how we interpret scores on grammar tests”. The idea is to consider individualcharacteristic of the tasks and the procedure for designing and developing tasks and also testpurposes. The target language use domain and the target language use tasks is an essentialpreliminary step to the specification of test tasks is that we understand as grammatical ability.If you want to develop grammar assessments you need “articulate the purpose(s) of the test,consider the constructs and identify the situational domain(s) in which we would like to makeinferences about the test taker’s grammatical ability”. Constructs definition is understood as theevidence can be gathered by means of the tasks and then scored which would be used to providediagnostic information (identify areas of further instructions) as well as achievement information(determining the degree to which students has mastered the course material).Other relevant idea is consider what do we mean by task? According different authors “taskcould be referred to any activity that requires students to do something for the intent purpose oflearning the target language and it involves a linguistic or nonlinguistic response to input” whileaccording Loschky and Bley Vroman (1993) said that there are three types of grammar to taskrelationships task naturalness, task utility and task essentialness; nevertheless, what aboutcommunicative tasks? Rea Dickins (1991) said that these kinds of tasks should provide a realisticsituation in which test takers need to exchange information in order to complete the task.
  2. 2. Some characteristics of grammatical test tasks should be focus on “to provide as useful ameasurement as possible of students` grammatical ability it is necessary to design test tasks inwhich the variability of students`scores is attributed to the differences in their grammaticalability and not to controlled or irrelevant variability resulting from types of tasks or quality of thetasks that teachers have put on the test” according Bachman and Palmer Framework there areaspects describe these characteristics for example first the setting which include physicalcharacteristics, the participants and the time of the task, second the test rubrics which includeinstructions, the overall structure of the test, the time allotment and the method used to score theresponse is to say the overall test instructions make explicit the purpose of the overall test andthe area (s) of language ability being measured and so on, third the input or the stimulus which isthe part of the task that test takers must process in order to answer the question and has criticalfeatures of performance in all test and TLU task, fourth the expected response which are in termsof the format and language and also it can vary according to channel, form and vehicle and fifththe relationship between the input and response which consider in examining how tasks impactperformance is seen in how characteristics of the input can interact with characteristics of theresponse. We can find different types of grammar test such as multiple choice error identificationtask, the matching task, the discrimination task, the noticing task, the gap filling task, the sortanswer task, the dialogue completion task and others.CHAPTER 8
  3. 3. The “Learning-oriented assessment of grammar” was born in order to make grammartests more consistent with classroom goals, curriculum and instructions. The main idea of thisapproach is promote “further learning” from the initial stages of test design. In order to implement this approach, firstly, teachers need to clarify three aspects: 1)whom we are doing the assessment for, 2) why assessment information in needed and 3) whatkind of information is needed. Then they have to specify the assessment purpose. Secondly, theprevious aspects will influence in the type of task that may be used and in the constructdefinition (simple/complex). A simple construct could be that students had to complete a textwith verbs in past, for example. A complex construct involves the reflection of the studentsabout, for instance, why an event happened. Thirdly, to transform the implicit grammar inexplicit grammar. One way is to expose students with real time task in order to measure theirgrammar capacity. The idea of these real tasks is that students apply the implicit grammar rulesthey know explicitly in a real situation. In order to operationalized learning-oriented teachers have to develop test specificationswhich are really necessary. Besides, to collect information teachers can use different methodssuch as conventional quizzes and tests containing selected-response, etc. Another way to collectinformation is by extended production tasks: such as chats, recasts (re-creation), simulations,different types of project work , observation and reflection. Image a teacher that want to measure “modal verbs” using a detective case. The studentshave to make predictions about the case; however, to operationalized learning-oriented inclassroom teachers need to modify the time, or the participants of the task. Students can performin group while the teacher is moving around observing or audio/videotaped them. Also teachershave to modify the scoring method to accommodate different learning oriented goals. Maybeafter the performance students can evaluate themselves or a classmate based on the recorder. Orteacher can evaluate the performance. Maybe teacher can provide written comments instead of ascore at all.. This would be a good possibility for feedback to know the degree of interference ofthe L1 (mother tongue) of each students. The learning-oriented assessment wants students can
  4. 4. discover by themselves (positive or negative evidence). Considering that feedback is quiteimportant in this approach teacher can use it to show students how to improve and how topromote a further learning. Also students develop the capacity of assess themselves or a partnerusing rating scales and a set of guiding questions (Eg. My partner and I did a good job on thistask) In addition, there are two common ways to collect information on grammatical ability: 1)Observation which is a natural part of every class and which can be done using, for example, ananecdotal record. 2) A checklist: To record presence or absence of features in the constructunder observation. Nonetheless, there is another way to collect information 3) Reflection, in timeor over a period of time. It is useful to assess students feelings or attitudes towards learninggrammar (student journal, learning log) Teacher can present the assessment result: with feedback (individually on further learningin written comments, scoring or both) in the form of a single overall test score, a score for eachtest component, scores reference to a rubric, a narrative summary of teacher observations or aprofile of scores showing development over time Finally, is important to point out that to implement learning-oriented assessment ofgrammar teachers not only have to consider the task design and operationalization, but also theyhave to consider the acquisition of grammar and when in the lesson the grammatical aspects arebest assessed. if tt occurs in the input processing (when they learn grammar by instructions) orif it occurs in the output processing (when they produce something using grammar) Teacher havebe aware of these processes in order to make the learning-oriented assessment of grammar acomplete success.