TEFL Methodoloogy: Testing (1)

                                                           TESTS

 

A TEST is an activiity whose main purpose is to convey how well a test-taker knows how to/ can do something.

 

Reasons for testing              

 

  1. to gain information how much Ss know and what to do next
  2. information how much Ss know for Ss
  3. asses for purpose external to current teaching
  4. motivate Ss
  5. review knowledge and skills
  6. punish Ss
  7. practice
  8. give Ss a sense of achievement
  9. get Ss to make an effort
  10. give Ss a sense of structure (signal that a “stage” in learning has been reached, such as finishing a coursebook unit, covering a lexical / grammatical area, etc.)

 

Classification of tests

 

According to

Types of tests

Comments

Frame Reference

norm-referenced

 

criteria-referenced

 

Purpose of Test

(information being sought)

proficiency

criterion-referenced; measures Ss’ abilities in using language to perform particular tasks

achievement

measures Ss’ mastery of the syllabus or content covered

diagnostic

measures the level of particular sub-skills, aspects of grammar, lexis, pronunciation. It may diagnose learning difficulties.

placement

criterion-referenced; identifies candidates who meet requirements for particular groups / classes.

Number of language elements tested at a time

discrete point

(one element)

 

integrative

(more elements)

  • dictation
  • essay

Score

objective

key

subjective

 

Test Construction

direct

 

indirect

 

 

 

TEST VALIDITY is the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure (and nothing else).

 

Test Validity (types):

 

  1. face validity - perceived, surface credibility, “test appeal”
  2. content validity - representative sample of the course
  3. construct validity - designed in accordance with the current language teaching theory
  4. criterion-related validity - concurrent and predictive (comparing the test results with some other measure)

 

Test Reliability

 

A reliable test produces consistent results when administered on different occasions.

 

Factors affecting test reliability:

  1. the extent of the sample of material selected for testing
  2. administration conditions
  3. test instructions
  4. personal factors (e.g. illness, motivation)
  5. scoring the test

 

A valid test ensures a certain degree of reliability.

 

How to design a reliable and valid test? Some hints:

 

  • ensure questions do not allow freedom of interpretation
  • give Ss as many opportunities as possible
  • provide clear and specific instructions
  • avoid ambiguous items
  • make sure the test is as objectively scored as possible
  • the fewer choices regarding questions, the better
  • make sure Ss are familiar with tasks / test type
  • agree on a marking key
  • provide double marking when tasks are subjective
  • ask your colleagues for feedback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Test Practicality

 

The degree of practicality depends on how easy and cheap the test design, administering and scoring are.

 

Wash-Back Effect

 

The Wash-back Effect is the effect of testing on teaching and learning.

Basically, this effect may be beneficial, harmful or (hardly ever) neutral.

 

How to make the Wash-Back Effect beneficial?

 

  • test the abilities whose development you want to encourage
  • sample widely and unpredictably
  • use direct testing
  • use criterion-referenced test frame
  • base achievement tests on objectives
  • ensure the test (type) is known and understood by Ts and Ss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Types of test according to their purpose

 

Course tests

 

Final achievement test - takes place at the end of the course; measures Ss’ mastery of the syllabus or content covered.

 

Progress test - conducted throughout a course; measure sSs’ achievement since previous test.

Quiz - informal “small” test; encourages; provides feedback.

 

Other tests

 

Proficiency test - criterion-referenced; measures Ss’ abilities in using language to perform particular tasks.

 

Selection test - norm-referenced; identifies best candidates.

 

Placement test - criterion-referenced; identifies candidates who meet requirements for particular groups / classes.

 

Diagnostic test - measures the level of particular sub-skills, aspects of grammar, lexis, pronunciation. It may diagnose learning difficulties.

 

Common test errors:

 

  • the test tests:

-          certain mental ability instead of language knowledge

-          background knowledge instead of language knowledge

-          two things at a time

 

  • problems with distractors:

-          easy to eliminate

-          of different types (e.g. phonological and lexical)

-          inconsistent

-          nonsense (elementary levels -> exposure to wrong language; advanced levels -> easy to eliminate)

 

  • there’s more than one correct answer
  • the answer is embedded in the question
  • difficult scoring
  • lack of content

 

 

 

 

 

Test Design

 

1. Specifications of the test

  • what to test
  • how to test
  • how many test items
  • how to score

 

 

 

 

 

2. Item writing and moderation

  • method effect (the method of testing affects ss’ score)

 

 

Make sure you use more than 1 method for testing any ability.

 

3. Pre-testing and analysis

Try to test another (not target) group.

 

4. Administration

  • testing environment
  • giving instructions
  • maintain the environment
  • collect the papers

 

 

 

 

 

5. Scoring

  • objective versus subjective
  • holistic versus analytic

 

 

 

6. Reporting and integrating scores

  • seperately or altogether
  • cut-off points

 

 

 

7. Test analysis

  • comparing the test to previous ones
  • common difficulties may stem from unclear instructions

 

 

 

8.  Developing and improving tests

 

Test Items

 

Test Item

Tested Language Areas

Positives

Drawbacks / Risk

Questions and Answers

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading comprehension
  • listening comprehension

easy to compose

 

True / False

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading comprehension
  • listening comprehension

 

 

Multiple Choice

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading comprehension
  • listening comprehension

 

difficult to compose

Gap Filling and Completion

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading comprehension
  • listening comprehension

 

difficult to elicit what you want

Cloze

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading comprehension
  • spelling

 

 

Matching

  • vocabulary

(e.g. definitions, compound nouns, opposites, synonyms)

 

difficult to find one alternative (opposites)

Dictation

  • listening comprehension
  • spelling
  • punctuation

 

 

Transformation

  • grammar

 

tests form only, not meaning

Rewriting / Paraphrasing

  • grammar

 

 

Translation

  • grammar
  • vocabulary

 

difficult to score

Essay

  • writing
  • grammar
  • vocabulary
  • spelling
  • punctuation

 

difficult to score

Monologue

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • pronunciation
  • speaking

 

  • difficult to score
  • it may be hard to find a suitable topic

 

 

Bibliography

Bartram, M. and Walton, R. 1991. Correction. Mistake Management. Language Teaching Publications: 1991.

Brumfit, C. 1994. Communicative Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Byrne, D. 1990. Teaching Oral Skills. Harlow: Longman.

Byrne, D. 1990b. Teaching Writing  Skills. Harlow: Longman.

Harmer, J. 2001. The Practice of English Language Teaching.  Harlow:  Longman.

Ur, P. 1996. A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

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