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.