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ELT:621
LANGUAGE TESTING AND
EVALUATION
THE RELIABILITY, VALIDTY AND UTILITY OF
SELF ASSESSMENT
JOHN A.ROSS
(UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO )
NOVEMBER 2006
http://paraonline.net/
Definitions
For the purpose of this article, I will follow Klenowski’s
(1995) definition of self-assessment as “the evaluation or
judgment of ‘the worth’ of one’s performance and the
identification of one’s strengths and weaknesses with a
view to improving one’s learning outcomes” . Although
some of the research conducted on self-assessment has
consisted of students appraising their work with little
interpretative guidance.
Is self-assessment a reliable
assessment technique?
Reliability, meaning the
consistency of the scores
produced by a measurement
tool, can be determined in many
ways. The internal consistency of
self-assessments is typically high.
The evidence in support of the reliability of self-
assessment is positive in terms of consistency across
tasks, across items, and over short time periods. The
studies showing adequate consistency involved students
who had been trained in how to evaluate their work.
There was less consistency over longer time periods,
particularly involving younger children, and there were
variations among subjects.
Does self-assessment provide valid
evidence about student performance?
Validity in self-assessment typically
means agreement with teacher
judgments (considered to be the gold
standard) or peer rankings (usually
the mean of multiple judges which
tend to be more accurate than the
results from a single judge)
Student self-assessments are generally higher than teacher
ratings, although exceptions have been reported . Young
children may over-estimate because they lack the cognitive
skills to integrate information about their abilities and are
more vulnerable to wishful thinking. Agreement of self-
assessment with peer judgments is generally higher than self-
teacher Agreement.
The evidence about the concurrent validity of self-
assessments is mixed. However, the review suggests that
discrepancies between self-assessments and scores on
other measures should be the stimulus for further inquiry,
an invitation to review the evidence embedded in the
learner’s performance that might reveal student strengths
and learning needs not addressed by the formal criteria.
Does self-assessment improve student
performance?
Consequential validity is the argument that the worth of a
test is determined by its consequences for students and
others. For example, a valid assessment is one that
contributes to student learning—if the assessment
has a negative effect on student learning, the test is invalid
(Moss, 1998). The inclusion of consequences as a
dimension of test validity is a key element of student
assessment reform.
On balance, the research evidence suggests that self-
assessment contributes to higher student achievement and
improved behavior.
Figure 1:How Self-Assessment Contributes to Learning
Students with greater confidence in
their ability to accomplish the target
task are more likely to visualize
success than failure. They set higher
standards of performance for
themselves. Student expectations
about future performance also
influence effort. Confident students
persist. They are not depressed by
failure but respond to setbacks with
renewed effort. The combination of
higher goals and increased effort
contributes to higher achievement.
Is self-assessment a useful student assessment
technique?
Strengths , evidence that self-assessment contributes to
improved student behavior. For example, when a grade
four student in a classroom that used self-assessment
extensively was asked what she compared her work to,
she reported, “I usually compare it to my own work
because not other people’s marks are going on my
report card...so I need to see if I improved. . However,
the construction of rubrics using language meaningful to
students might also make the goals of the curriculum
more accessible to parents and the meaning of expected
standards more transparent.
Weaknesses ,The number one concern of teachers about
self-assessment is the fear that sharing control of
assessment with students will lower standards and reward
students. Finally, teachers are concerned about parent
reactions to self-assessment. Some parents expect teachers
to take sole responsibility for assessment decisions.
Making Self-Assessment More
Useful
Teachers who are concerned
about the inaccuracy of self-
assessment may be partially
reassured by the research
evidence about the psychometric
properties of self-assessment. The
concern is likely to remain.
Improvement in the utility of self-
assessment is most likely to come
from attention to four dimensions
in training students how to assess
their work.
 First, the process for defining the criteria that
students use to assess their work will improve
the reliability and validity of assessment if the
rubric uses language intelligible to students,
addresses competencies that are familiar to
student. A key message in manual is that
teachers should not surrender control of
assessment criteria but enact a process.
 Second, teaching students how to apply the criteria
also contributes to the credibility of the assessment
and student understanding of the rubric. Within-
lesson comments that link instructional episodes and
student tasks to assessment criteria reinforce
student understanding of the criteria.
Third, giving students feedback on their self-
assessments is a process of triangulating student
self-assessments with teacher appraisals and peer
assessments of the same work using the same
criteria. A key issue is to help students move from
holistic to analytic scoring of their work.
Fourth, students need help in using self-assessment
data to improve performance Recording goals in a
contract increases accountability. Teachers can also
address student beliefs that contribute to higher
goal setting.
Language testing and evaluation

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Language testing and evaluation

  • 2. THE RELIABILITY, VALIDTY AND UTILITY OF SELF ASSESSMENT JOHN A.ROSS (UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO ) NOVEMBER 2006 http://paraonline.net/
  • 3. Definitions For the purpose of this article, I will follow Klenowski’s (1995) definition of self-assessment as “the evaluation or judgment of ‘the worth’ of one’s performance and the identification of one’s strengths and weaknesses with a view to improving one’s learning outcomes” . Although some of the research conducted on self-assessment has consisted of students appraising their work with little interpretative guidance.
  • 4. Is self-assessment a reliable assessment technique? Reliability, meaning the consistency of the scores produced by a measurement tool, can be determined in many ways. The internal consistency of self-assessments is typically high.
  • 5. The evidence in support of the reliability of self- assessment is positive in terms of consistency across tasks, across items, and over short time periods. The studies showing adequate consistency involved students who had been trained in how to evaluate their work. There was less consistency over longer time periods, particularly involving younger children, and there were variations among subjects.
  • 6. Does self-assessment provide valid evidence about student performance? Validity in self-assessment typically means agreement with teacher judgments (considered to be the gold standard) or peer rankings (usually the mean of multiple judges which tend to be more accurate than the results from a single judge)
  • 7. Student self-assessments are generally higher than teacher ratings, although exceptions have been reported . Young children may over-estimate because they lack the cognitive skills to integrate information about their abilities and are more vulnerable to wishful thinking. Agreement of self- assessment with peer judgments is generally higher than self- teacher Agreement.
  • 8. The evidence about the concurrent validity of self- assessments is mixed. However, the review suggests that discrepancies between self-assessments and scores on other measures should be the stimulus for further inquiry, an invitation to review the evidence embedded in the learner’s performance that might reveal student strengths and learning needs not addressed by the formal criteria.
  • 9. Does self-assessment improve student performance? Consequential validity is the argument that the worth of a test is determined by its consequences for students and others. For example, a valid assessment is one that contributes to student learning—if the assessment has a negative effect on student learning, the test is invalid (Moss, 1998). The inclusion of consequences as a dimension of test validity is a key element of student assessment reform.
  • 10. On balance, the research evidence suggests that self- assessment contributes to higher student achievement and improved behavior. Figure 1:How Self-Assessment Contributes to Learning
  • 11. Students with greater confidence in their ability to accomplish the target task are more likely to visualize success than failure. They set higher standards of performance for themselves. Student expectations about future performance also influence effort. Confident students persist. They are not depressed by failure but respond to setbacks with renewed effort. The combination of higher goals and increased effort contributes to higher achievement.
  • 12. Is self-assessment a useful student assessment technique? Strengths , evidence that self-assessment contributes to improved student behavior. For example, when a grade four student in a classroom that used self-assessment extensively was asked what she compared her work to, she reported, “I usually compare it to my own work because not other people’s marks are going on my report card...so I need to see if I improved. . However, the construction of rubrics using language meaningful to students might also make the goals of the curriculum more accessible to parents and the meaning of expected standards more transparent.
  • 13.
  • 14. Weaknesses ,The number one concern of teachers about self-assessment is the fear that sharing control of assessment with students will lower standards and reward students. Finally, teachers are concerned about parent reactions to self-assessment. Some parents expect teachers to take sole responsibility for assessment decisions.
  • 15. Making Self-Assessment More Useful Teachers who are concerned about the inaccuracy of self- assessment may be partially reassured by the research evidence about the psychometric properties of self-assessment. The concern is likely to remain. Improvement in the utility of self- assessment is most likely to come from attention to four dimensions in training students how to assess their work.
  • 16.  First, the process for defining the criteria that students use to assess their work will improve the reliability and validity of assessment if the rubric uses language intelligible to students, addresses competencies that are familiar to student. A key message in manual is that teachers should not surrender control of assessment criteria but enact a process.  Second, teaching students how to apply the criteria also contributes to the credibility of the assessment and student understanding of the rubric. Within- lesson comments that link instructional episodes and student tasks to assessment criteria reinforce student understanding of the criteria.
  • 17.
  • 18. Third, giving students feedback on their self- assessments is a process of triangulating student self-assessments with teacher appraisals and peer assessments of the same work using the same criteria. A key issue is to help students move from holistic to analytic scoring of their work. Fourth, students need help in using self-assessment data to improve performance Recording goals in a contract increases accountability. Teachers can also address student beliefs that contribute to higher goal setting.