overview of assessment: context, issues & trends

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OVERVIEW OF ASSESSMENT:
CONTEXT, ISSUES & TRENDS
TSL3112 LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
PISMP TESL SEMESTER 6
IPGKDRI
DEFINITION OF TERMS
• Assessment:
– “appraising or estimating the level or magnitude
of some attribute of a person” (Mousavi, 2009).
– An ongoing process that encompasses a wide
range of methodological techniques – e.g.
students’ responses, comments or trying out new
words / structures.
– A good teacher never ceases to assess students –
incidental or intended.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
• Test:
– A method of measuring a person’s ability,
knowledge, or performance in a given domain.
– A subset of assessment, a genre of assessment
techniques.
– A prepared administrative procedure which occurs
at identifiable times in a curriculum when learners
muster all their faculties to offer peak
performance, knowing that their responses are
being measured and evaluated.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
• Test:
– A method: an instrument – a set of techniques,
procedures, or items – that requires performance
on the par of the test-taker.
– Measure: a process of quantifying a test-taker’s
performance according to explicit procedures or
rules (Bachman, 1990).
– The measurement of individual’s ability,
knowledge, or performance / competence.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
• Test:
– The measurement of a given domain.
– Thus, a well-constructed test is an instrument that
provides an accurate measure of the test-taker’s
ability within a particular domain.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
• Measurement:
– The process of quantifying the observed
performance of classroom learners.
– The issue of QUANTITATIVE & QUALITATIVE
descriptions of student performance.
– Quantitative – assigning numbers, i.e. rankings
and letter grades.
– Qualitative – written descriptions, oral feedback,
and other nonquantifiable reports.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
• Evaluation:
– The interpretation of information.
– Does not necessarily entail testing; rather,
evaluation is involved when the results of a test
(or other assessment procedure) are used for
decision making (Bachman, 1990).
– I.O.W. – you evaluate when you value the results.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Tests
Measurement
Assessment
Teaching
Evaluation
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Language-testing trends and practices have
followed the shifting sands of teaching
methodology.
• For examples:
– 1940s & 1950s – an era of behaviourism and
special attention to contrastive analysis, language
tests focused on specific linguistic elements.
– 1970s & 1980s – communicative theories of
language brought with them a more integrative
view of testing.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Behavioural Influences on Language Testing:
– Through the middle of the 20th century, language
teaching and testing – strongly influenced by
behavioural psychology and structural linguistics.
– Emphasis on sentence-level grammatical
paradigms, definitions of vocabulary items, and
translation.
– Test consisted of grammar and vocabulary items in
MCQ with a variety of translation exercises –
words, sentences, and short paragraphs.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Behavioural Influences on Language Testing:
– Discrete-point formats – the assumption that
language can be broken down into its component
parts.
– The psychometric-structuralist approach – test
designers seized the tools of the day to focus on
issues of validity, reliability, and objectivity.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Integrative Approaches:
– In the midst of this fervor, language pedagogy was
rapidly moving in more communicative directions.
– The profession emerged into an era emphasizing
communication, authenticity, and context – new
approaches were sought.
– John Oller (1979) argued that language
competence was a unified set of interacting
abilities that could not be tested separately.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Integrative Approaches:
– The introduction of integrative testing.
– Two types: cloze tests and dictations.
– Proponents of integrative test methods centred their
arguments on what became known as the unitary
trait hypothesis – an invisible view of language
proficiency: that vocabulary, grammar, phonology, and
the four language skills and other discrete points of
language could not be disentangled from each other
in language performance.
– However, it was eventually abandoned.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Communicative Language Testing:
– The mid-1980s – Canale and Swain’s (1980)
seminal work on communicative competence
resulted the language-testing field had begun to
focus on designing communicative languagetesting tasks.
– Bachman and Palmer (1996) included among
fundamental principles of language testing the
need for a correspondence between language test
performance and language use.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Communicative Language Testing:
– The problem faced – tasks tended to be artificial,
contrived, and unlikely to mirror language use in
real life.
– The quest for authenticity – centred on
communicative performance.
– Following Canale and Swain’s (1980) model –
Bachman (1990) proposed a model of language
competence:
Language Competence
Organisational
Competence
Grammatical
Competence
Textual
Competence
- Vocabulary
- Morphology
- Cohesion
-Syntax
- Rhetorical
Organisation
- Phonology /
Graphology
Pragmatic Competence
Illocutionary
Competence
Sociolinguistic
Competence
- Ideational
Functions
- Sensitivity to
Dialect / Variety
- Manipulative
Functions
- Sensitivity to
Register
- Heuristic
Functions
- Sensitivity to
Naturalness
- Imaginative
Functions
- Cultural
References and
Figures of Speech
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Communicative Language Testing:
– Bachman and Palmer (1996) also emphasised on
the importance of strategic competence, i.e. the
ability to employ communicative strategies to
compensate for breakdowns & enhance rhetorical
effect of utterances, in the process of
communication.
– Challenges: to identify the kinds of real-world
tasks that language learners to perform, the
contexts were too widely varied, & the sampling
of tasks for assessment procedure needed to be
validated.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Communicative Language Testing:
– Weir (1990) – to measure language proficiency:
where, when, how, with whom, and why language
is to be used, and on what topics, and with what
effect.
– The assessment field became more concerned
with the authenticity of tasks and the genuineness
of texts.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Performance-Based Assessment:
– The new and more student-centred agenda.
– Involve oral production, written production, openended responses, integrated performance (across
skill areas), group performance, and other
interactive tasks.
– Time-consuming & relatively expensive; however,
result in more direct and more accurate testing –
students are assessed as they perform actual and
stimulated real-world tasks.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Performance-Based Assessment:
– Higher content validity – learners are measured in
the process of performing the targeted linguistic
acts.
– In an English language teaching context – teachers
may face a difficult time to distinguish between
formal and informal assessment.
– The goals of performance-based assessment will
be met if relying a little less on formally structured
tests and a little more on evaluation.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Performance-Based Assessment:
– A characteristic of many performance-based
language assessments is the presence of
interactive tasks (a.k.a. task-based assessment).
– The assessments involve learners in actually
performing the behaviour to measure.
– Test-takers are measured in the act of speaking,
requesting, responding, or in combining listening
and speaking, and in integrating reading and
writing.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN
LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
• Performance-Based Assessment:
– A prime example – oral interview: the
authenticity of real-life language use.
CHANGING TRENDS IN LANGUAGE
ASSESSMENT – MALAYSIAN CONTEXT
• Tutorial questions:
– Compare and contrast informal and formal
assessments.
– Compare and contrast the implementation of
assessments between the KBSR and KSSR.

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