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Exam Writing Slideshare

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How to write communicative EFL exams for large classrooms: theory and practice.

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Exam Writing Slideshare

  1. 1. Writing and Correcting Communicative Exams JoAnn Miller Editorial Macmillan [email_address]
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What to test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Types of tests </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communicative testing </li></ul><ul><li>Content Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Written tests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Balance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Correction </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Alternative Testing <ul><li>Not paper and pencil </li></ul><ul><li>Constant not punctual </li></ul>The Reflective Portfolio: Two Case Studies from the United Arab Emirates, Christine Coombe and Lisa Barlow, Forum Online, http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol42/no1/p18.htm
  4. 4. Portfolios <ul><li>a collection of student production over time </li></ul><ul><li>shows the stages in the learning process </li></ul><ul><li>and the stages of the student’s growth. </li></ul>The Reflective Portfolio: Two Case Studies from the United Arab Emirates, Christine Coombe and Lisa Barlow, Forum Online, http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol42/no1/p18.htm
  5. 5. Portfolios? <ul><li>more subjective </li></ul><ul><li>acceptance </li></ul><ul><li>physical limits </li></ul>
  6. 6. Why written tests? <ul><li>Not the only way and maybe not the fairest. </li></ul><ul><li>But easiest with large numbers of students </li></ul><ul><li>More objective </li></ul><ul><li>Accepted by institutions, parents, students </li></ul>
  7. 7. Exam Banks <ul><li>A collection of exams for classroom use maintained by the institution itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Written by the teachers themselves or a special committee </li></ul><ul><li>Following institutional guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Could be various “cycles” covering the same material </li></ul>
  8. 8. The benefits of an exam bank <ul><li>Less work for teachers </li></ul><ul><li>More standardization in large one-campus schools and in multi-campus schools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Criteria, instructions and grading </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Face validity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Format </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniform length </li></ul>
  9. 9. What are your exams going to be like? <ul><li>Many variables: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Institution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Text </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Teachers <ul><li>Level of English </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of mathematical skills </li></ul><ul><li>Time factor </li></ul><ul><li>Ease of grading </li></ul><ul><li>Answer key </li></ul>
  11. 11. Students <ul><li>Younger students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More images </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shorter exams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humor </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Older students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Professionalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humor </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. How many points for each skill? <ul><li>If institution tells you, just follow through </li></ul><ul><li>If not, base exam on the textbook (the common denominator) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>General text analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How much time is spent on each skill </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Count exercises in a few units, determine percent </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keep institutional goals in mind </li></ul>
  13. 13. Reasons for Testing <ul><li>Placement tests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>student’s suitability to take a specific course </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>based on specific textbook </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Proficiency tests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>check students’ progress in general </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TOEFL, First Certificate, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Achievement tests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>check how much a student has learned </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>based on what a student has studied in a specific course </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Communicative testing <ul><li>We teach “communicatively” but we test “traditionally”. </li></ul><ul><li>What IS communicative testing? </li></ul><ul><li>Communicative testing means testing </li></ul><ul><li>in context . </li></ul>
  15. 15. Grammar? What will you test?
  16. 16. Which version? Why? <ul><li>Circle the correct answer </li></ul><ul><li>1. Do you like __________? </li></ul><ul><li>swimming b. to swum c. swim </li></ul><ul><li>2. Where ________ live? </li></ul><ul><li>does she b. she does c. she </li></ul><ul><li>3. I _________ speak French. </li></ul><ul><li>no speak b. doesn’t c. don’t </li></ul><ul><li>4. What __________? </li></ul><ul><li>a. does he do b. does he c. he does do </li></ul><ul><li>Write the correct forms of the words in parentheses. </li></ul><ul><li>Alice: Where (1)______ you </li></ul><ul><li>_________ (live)? </li></ul><ul><li>Bart: Acapulco. </li></ul><ul><li>Alice: My brother (2)___________ (go) </li></ul><ul><li>there every summer on vacation, </li></ul><ul><li>but he (3)_________(not speak) </li></ul><ul><li>Spanish. </li></ul><ul><li>Bart: Acapulco (4)_________ (attract) </li></ul><ul><li>tourists from all over the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Many people there </li></ul><ul><li>(5)___________(speak) English </li></ul><ul><li>very well. What about you, </li></ul><ul><li>(6)______ you ________(speak) </li></ul><ul><li>Spanish? </li></ul><ul><li>Alice: A little. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Vocabulary? What will you test?
  18. 18. Which version? Why? <ul><li>Match the letters (a to e) with the numbers (1 to 5). </li></ul><ul><li>1. Your mother’s husband is your___. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Your mother’s father is your___. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Your mother’s brother is your___. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Your uncle’s son is your___. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Your father’s sister is your ___. </li></ul><ul><li>uncle </li></ul><ul><li>cousin </li></ul><ul><li>aunt </li></ul><ul><li>father </li></ul><ul><li>grandfather </li></ul><ul><li>Underline the word in each pair that completes the conversation correctly. </li></ul><ul><li>My (1)[ uncle / aunt ] likes (2) [ playing / going to ] movies. He is my father’s (3)[ sister / brother] . He’s (4)[ heavy / average ] and he has (5)[ blue / brown ] hair. His birthday is on October (6)[twelve / twelfth ] . </li></ul>
  19. 19. Functions? What will you test?
  20. 20. What is a function? <ul><li>The communicative purpose of the users of the language. </li></ul><ul><li>How language is used. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually expressed as gerunds: introducing, apologizing, asking directions, requesting </li></ul>
  21. 21. Examples of a Functional Cycle <ul><li>Function: Requesting </li></ul><ul><li>(1) Open the window, please. </li></ul><ul><li>(2) Would you open the window? </li></ul><ul><li>(3) Could you please open the window? </li></ul><ul><li>(4) Would you mind opening the window? </li></ul><ul><li>(5) I was wondering if you would mind opening the window. </li></ul><ul><li>(6) I’d be grateful if you opened the window. </li></ul><ul><li>Each time the difference in register is emphasized. </li></ul>
  22. 22. How to test? Complete the conversation. <ul><li>Complete the conversation logically. Use the words in parentheses. </li></ul><ul><li>Miriam: Tell me about your new apartment. </li></ul><ul><li>Mary: (1)____________________(big / living room). </li></ul><ul><li>Miriam: (2)___________________(how / bedrooms)? </li></ul><ul><li>Mary: There are two, but (3)________(any furniture) </li></ul><ul><li>in one of them. </li></ul>Or: Miriam: Tell me about your new apartment. Mary: (1)_______________________(living room). Or: Miriam: Tell me about your new apartment. Mary: (1)________________________________.
  23. 23. Content Validity <ul><li>Assessment should be based on a content-analysis of the text being used </li></ul>
  24. 24. Content Analysis <ul><li>You must test only material students have seen </li></ul><ul><li>The only common denominator is the textbook </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of percent of time spent on each topic (grammar structure, vocabulary item, function, etc.) </li></ul>
  25. 25. Content Analysis: Information from the contents Functions (10 points): Talking about imitation products Talking about food and food festivals Discussing the movie industry Making a business plan Grammar (5 points): Nouns in groups Indefinite Pronouns Vocabulary (10 points): Food Business language ///// /// ///// ///// ///// //// ///// /// ///// ///// /// 8 10 9 5 32 3 5 8 5 3 8 8 / 32 =__% 25% 31% 28% 16% 25% X 10 = ___pts 2.5 pts 3 pts 3 pts 1.5 pts 37% 2 pts 63% 3 pts 63% 6 pts 37% 4 pts
  26. 27. Practice vs Testing In class practice During exam Goals Content Learner activity Teacher activity Class-room climate learning feedback on learning process oriented product oriented open ended close ended ss know material students might not know success-oriented success/failure oriented peer teaching no peer teaching helps performance gives tasks cooperative competitive relaxed tense intrinsic motivation extrinsic motivation
  27. 28. Balance <ul><li>Ideally an exam will balance: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accuracy and fluency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Production and recognition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Objective and subjective sections </li></ul></ul>
  28. 29. Accuracy and Fluency <ul><li>Fluency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ability to produce written and / or spoken language with ease </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicate ideas effectively </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The ability to use vocabulary chunks (phrases) to facilitate communication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Accuracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to produce grammatically correct sentences </li></ul></ul>
  29. 30. Production and Recognition <ul><li>Production </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student writes more than one word </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be creative / involves more “mental” work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More than one answer may be possible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Recognition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student recognizes correct answer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not creative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Only one correct answer </li></ul></ul>
  30. 31. Objective and Subjective Sections <ul><li>Subjective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is more than one possible answer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Corrector must be trained and experienced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There can be surprises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students can protest grading </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Objective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is only one answer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone can correct the exam </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No surprises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No argument from students </li></ul></ul>
  31. 32. <ul><li>Grammar / Vocabulary / Functions? </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy or fluency? </li></ul><ul><li>Production or recognition? </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective or objective? </li></ul>
  32. 33. <ul><li>Grammar / Vocabulary / Functions? </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy or fluency? </li></ul><ul><li>Production or recognition? </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective or objective? </li></ul>
  33. 34. <ul><li>Grammar / Vocabulary / Functions? </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy or fluency? </li></ul><ul><li>Production or recognition? </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective or objective? </li></ul>
  34. 35. <ul><li>Grammar / Vocabulary / Functions? </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy or fluency? </li></ul><ul><li>Production or recognition? </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective or objective? </li></ul>
  35. 36. <ul><li>Grammar / Vocabulary / Functions? </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy or fluency? </li></ul><ul><li>Production or recognition? </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective or objective? </li></ul>
  36. 37. <ul><li>Grammar / Vocabulary / Functions? </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy or fluency? </li></ul><ul><li>Production or recognition? </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective or objective? </li></ul>
  37. 38. What is an exam section? <ul><li>A certain number of items testing the same skill / aspect </li></ul><ul><li>To be communicative, they should be written as a conversation, note, letter, or some “real” type of discourse </li></ul><ul><li>All items in a section should be worth the same number of points and test a similar skill (all grammar, all vocabulary, all functions, etc.) </li></ul>
  38. 39. Determining sections <ul><li>You can combine point values within the same aspect. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Put two grammar structures in the same section </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You can divide point values between two sections </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Divide the points from one structure and put them in two sections </li></ul></ul>
  39. 40. Formats
  40. 41. Multiple Choice <ul><li>Parts of question </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distractors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>YYYYYYYYY </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ZZZZZZZZ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AAAAAAAA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>{ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>{ </li></ul></ul>Correct answer
  41. 42. Stems <ul><li>1. Before writing, identify the one point to be tested by that item. </li></ul><ul><li>2. The stem should either be an incomplete statement or a direct question </li></ul><ul><li>3. Don’t include words that do not contribute to the basis for choosing among the options. For example, </li></ul><ul><li>The American flag has three colors. One of them is (1) red (2) green (3) black </li></ul><ul><li>vs. </li></ul><ul><li>One of the colors of the American flag is (1) red (2) green (3) black </li></ul>Kehoe, Jerard. Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items. ERIC/AE Digest Series EDO-TM-95-3, October 1995. http://www.ericdigests.org/1997-1/test.html
  42. 43. <ul><li>4. Include as much information in the stem and as little in the options as possible. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Restrict the use of negatives in the stem. Negatives in the stem usually require that the answer be a false statement. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Avoid irrelevant clues to the correct option. </li></ul><ul><li>Grammatical construction </li></ul>
  43. 44. Options (Kehoe) <ul><li>1. Use three or four options. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Construct distractors that are comparable in </li></ul><ul><li>length </li></ul><ul><li>complexity </li></ul><ul><li>grammatical form </li></ul><ul><li>3. After the options are written, vary the location of the answer randomly. </li></ul>
  44. 45. Ordering Multiple Choice Items <ul><li>Numerical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a. 1939 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>b. 1940 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>c. 1941 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>d. 1942 </li></ul></ul>Burton, Steven J. Richard R. Sudweeks, Paul F. Merrill, Bud Wood. How to Prepare Better Multiple-Choice Test Items: Guidelines for University Faculty , Brigham Young University Testing Services and The Department of Instructional Science. 1991. http://testing.byu.edu/info/handbooks/betteritems.pdf Sequential a. Heating ice from -100°C to 0°C. b. Melting ice at 0°C. c. Heating water from 0°C to 100°C. d. Evaporating water at 100°C. e. Heating steam from 100°C to 200°C. Sequential a. Heating ice from -100°C to 0°C . b. Melting ice at 0°C . c. Heating water from 0°C to 100°C. d. Evaporating water at 100°C . e. Heating steam from 100°C to 200°C. Alphabetical a. C hanging a from .01 to .05. b. D ecreasing the degrees of freedom. c. I ncreasing the spread of the exam scores. d. R educing the size of the treatment effect.
  45. 46. True / False <ul><li>Advantages : </li></ul><ul><li>Can test large amounts of content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students can answer 3-4 questions per minute </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Disadvantages: </li></ul><ul><li>They are easy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students have a 50-50 chance of getting the right answer by guessing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is difficult to discriminate between students that know the material and students who don't </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need a large number of items for high reliability </li></ul>Designing Test Questions, Grayson H. Walker Teaching Resource Center, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, h ttp://www.utc.edu/Administration/WalkerTeachingResourceCenter/FacultyDevelopment/Assessment/test-questions.html
  46. 47. How to “save” a T/F section… <ul><li>Add a third option </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Not mentioned” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>OR </li></ul><ul><li>Have student correct F answers </li></ul><ul><li>But only if students have practiced this version in the textbook </li></ul>
  47. 48. Cloze-type sections <ul><li>Write words or phrases from a box </li></ul><ul><li>Write the correct forms of verbs, comparatives, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Even Complete the Conversation </li></ul>
  48. 49. True Cloze <ul><li>A cloze test is a special type of fill-in exercise where, for example, every 5th word in a paragraph of about 150 words is deleted. (It could be every 6th word, or every 7th word, and so on.) </li></ul>
  49. 51. Boxes <ul><li>In these sections, students are given a text with certain words omitted </li></ul><ul><li>The omitted words / phrases (and perhaps some distractors) are put in a box at the top or side of the text </li></ul><ul><li>More difficult if extra options are supplied </li></ul><ul><li>The student completes the “Cloze” exercise with the words presented </li></ul><ul><li>Can be used with grammar, vocabulary or functions (chunks) </li></ul>
  50. 53. Fill in the blank <ul><li>A set of sentences or a text which has blanks in it for the students to complete with the correct or appropriate word. Example: He walked _____ school. </li></ul><ul><li>He ______ (walk) to school. </li></ul><ul><li>Fill-in-the blank exercises are a good way of reinforcing new grammar and vocabulary. </li></ul><ul><li>Also called: fill-in the gap, fill-in </li></ul>
  51. 55. Ordering: text and sentence <ul><li>Writing a text in order (paragraph, story, conversation) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>evaluates the student’s ability to recognize discourse cues (pronouns, connectors, chunks, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Writing a sentence in the correct order </li></ul><ul><ul><li>evaluates a students knowledge of syntax, which is considered part of grammar. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cream / I / ice / like </li></ul></ul>
  52. 56. Complete the conversation <ul><li>These sections evaluate a student’s ability to communicate ideas if they are corrected for communication and not for accuracy. </li></ul><ul><li>They can be written with different degrees of cueing. </li></ul>
  53. 57. Complete the conversation. <ul><li>Complete the conversation logically. Use the words in parentheses. </li></ul><ul><li>Miriam: Tell me about your new apartment. </li></ul><ul><li>Mary: (1)____________________(big / living room). </li></ul><ul><li>Miriam: (2)___________________(how / bedrooms)? </li></ul><ul><li>Mary: There are two, but (3)________(any furniture) </li></ul><ul><li>in one of them. </li></ul>Or: Miriam: Tell me about your new apartment. Mary: (1)_______________________(living room). Or: Miriam: Tell me about your new apartment. Mary: (1)________________________________.
  54. 58. Point Values <ul><li>Give more points to… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Production items </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Give fewer points to… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognition items </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Give partial credit in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluency / Production sections </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use fractions only if your teachers are mathematical </li></ul>
  55. 59. Instructions <ul><li>Keep them simple </li></ul><ul><li>You can use Spanish in lower levels </li></ul><ul><li>You can translate them into Spanish whenever necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the same wording in all your exams </li></ul><ul><li>Use examples whenever necessary </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But be careful they don’t give away the pattern </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remember: The instructions are NOT part of the exam… </li></ul>
  56. 60. Correcting communicative sections
  57. 61. Correcting <ul><li>Grammar, Reading, Vocabulary, Listening </li></ul><ul><li>In general these sections are all right or all wrong . </li></ul><ul><li>We rarely give partial credit. </li></ul><ul><li>These sections test accuracy . </li></ul><ul><li>Communicative sections </li></ul><ul><li>You can give partial credit </li></ul><ul><li>These sections test fluency. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask yourself if the S’s answer communicates what the S wants to say . </li></ul>
  58. 62. Examples of partial credit <ul><li>Correct answer: What’s your name? </li></ul><ul><li>Student writes: What you name? </li></ul><ul><li>Correct answer: If you invited me, I’d go. </li></ul><ul><li>Student writes: If you invite me, I go. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct answer: I went to the movies yesterday. </li></ul><ul><li>Student writes: I go to the movies yesterday. </li></ul><ul><li> I go to the movies. </li></ul>

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