Introduction to the Assessment Module
For many teachers and students, the word assessment brings forward negative feelings, particularly when thinking about tests. These feelings tend to have their roots in a couple of problems in language assessment.
First of all, sometimes we find that the tests we give don't connect to what is happening in the language classroom. There might be a lack of cohesion with course and the test. And, equally important, there might be a lack of connection between the test and what is considered real language use. This first issue can be a problem for teachers as they might feel that the test is not an accurate picture of the students' ability, which they often have a sense of from daily work. And this can lower their confidence with assessments. For students, this can render a test un-motivating, it could lower their engagement with the task, and, as a result the test will not elicit their best performance.
Another problem with assessment is that tests hold a good deal of power over teachers and students. The tests can have a great impact as well as a negative impact on the classrooms and lives of those involved. Important decisions are often made based on test scores, such as final grades, exit from a program, even employment or citizenship.
Tests hold power in how they impact the classroom and the perception of learning goals. So if an assessment and course don't connect, as I mentioned with the first problem, then it is often the test that takes over in the classroom. Students, and teachers as well, may see the test as the learning goal. For teachers, this is generally not a happy situation. However, if the assessment well is aligned well with the course and language use, then the impact can be positive.
The goal in this module is to increase confidence and competence in developing and evaluating language assessment. Hopefully, with this will help teachers assure that the tests they use connect to their classes as well as their thoughts about what language is. It should also help them voice concern when it does not. Lastly, approaching assessment as part of learning, not just a measure of learning, may help lessen the impact and perhaps create a more positive relationship between teaching and testing.
- 1 Introduction to Language Assessment
- An overview of language assessment from the perspective of teachers and students.
- 2 Indirect Assessment
- The strengths and weaknesses of two common test questions: multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank.
- 3 Direct Assessment
- Ideas about performance assessment along with solutions to the major challenges of these tasks.
- 4 Key Ideas in Assessment
- Explanation and examples to illustrate validity, reliability, and classroom assessment.