Assessment Literacy – Information for Teachers Interested in Issues of Language Assessment

Assessment procedures should be used to achieve three main purposes:

  1. Providing end-of-term grading or certification (summative evaluation)
  2. Providing information on the learner’s strengths and weaknesses (formative evaluation)
  3. Helping the teacher and/or learner to plan further work (integrative evaluation)

When assessing learning outcomes, the teacher should be concerned with four main decisions. These decisions relate to the following broad four questions:

  1. What to assess,
  2. When to assess,
  3. How to assess and
  4. How to use the information provided by the assessment process to support learning and to improve one’s own teaching.

Teachers can use tests and examinations to be aware of:

  • The learner’s competence or performance,
  • The student’s knowledge of culture of the native speaker of the language,
  • The ability to use language in realistic contexts.

When designing tests, teachers need to consider:

  • How valid the test is in terms of the aims and objectives of language learning,
  • How reliable the test is in terms of the grading procedures,
  • How practical the test is in terms of designing and administering it.

Ongoing assessment in the classroom is a must to provide a continuous picture of the learner’s ongoing progress and should be used both by the teacher and the learner. There are some important points the teacher should take into account when designing assessment tasks in the classroom. They are as follows:

  • Assessment procedures should be valid and appropriate to learning aims and objectives.
  • In-class activities should be used to monitor and assess learners’ participation and performance.
  • Assessment tasks should aim mainly at identifying strengths and areas for improvement in the learner’s performance.
  • There should be some assessment procedures to assess the learner’s ability to work independently and collaboratively.
  • The process and results of assessment should give helpful information for planning teaching and learning for individuals and groups.
  • Assessment of the learner’s performance and learning progress should be in the form of descriptive evaluation, which should be transparent and comprehensible to the learner, parents and others.
  • Reports, checklists, grades etc. can be used to chart and monitor the learner’s progress.
  • Assessment scales and a valid institutional/national/international grading system should be used in assessing the learner’s performance. Grades assigned for tests and examinations should use reliable and transparent procedures.

When assessing the learner’s language performance, the teacher should assess the learner’s ability to:

  • produce a spoken text according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, fluency, appropriateness of usage, etc.
  • produce a written text according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, cohesion and coherence, etc.
  • understand and interpret a spoken text such as listening for gist, specific or detailed information, implication, etc.
  • understand and interpret a written text such as reading for gist, specific or detailed information, implication, etc.
  • engage in spoken interaction according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, fluency and conversational strategies.
  • engage in written interaction according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy and appropriateness of response, etc.

When assessing the learner’s awareness of language culture, the teacher should assess the learner’s:

  • knowledge of cultural facts, events etc. of the target language communities.
  • ability to make comparisons between their own and the culture of target language communities.
  • ability to respond and act appropriately in encounters with the target language culture.

When learners make common errors during assessment tasks, the teacher should:

  • analyze these errors and identify the processes that may cause them.
  • provide constructive feedback to learners concerning their errors.
  • deal with errors that occur in class in a way which supports learning processes and communication.
  • deal with errors that occur in spoken and written language in ways which support learning processes and do not undermine confidence and communication.

Ten Simple Assessment Ideas for Everyday Use

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We always rely on written tests to assess our students. written tests cover little amount of  the learning material, so we should search for more ideas to show us that we are moving on, and whether our students have understood our explanation or they need more practice. I think the following ideas are useful to assess to what extent the students have learnt and what their weaknesses are:

  1. Ask open-ended questions starting with why and how.
  2. Ask for a summary of the lesson at the end.
  3. Use short tests/quizzes regularly and test one thing every time.
  4. Encourage role-play activities especially for conversations.
  5. Ask for comments from students on teaching procedures.
  6. Use mind map tools to encourage students to talk.
  7. Ask students to prepare something and talk about it.
  8. Encourage exchanging books among students to mark.
  9. Use rubrics and ask students to assess themselves.
  10. Exploit games and puzzles to assess language usage.

What else can you add? Write what you already do to assess your students daily.

Consider Six Main Points in your Assessment

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Before writing any examination questions or designing assessment exercises, you should keep in mind the following six points:

  1. Provide your students with the opportunity to show to what extent they have achieved the outcomes of learning of the whole syllabus or the lesson at hand. Accordingly, your assessment should differentiate between those who have already learned and those who need revision or more practice.
  1. Focus only on the most important aspects of the course and the objectives that you set for each lesson or unit, rather than other details.
  1. Provide feedback on performance as soon as possible so that students may improve themselves. Remember that the main aim of assessment is that students are able to learn through the process of assessment and view assessment as part of their learning process.
  1. Provide a means of encouragement by giving students the chance to see and sense their success and progress. It builds and increases their self-confidence as achievers.
  1. Design clear assessment criteria and marking guidance that allow differentiation and make students feel that you are fair.
  1. Meet all of your students’ styles of learning by using different and various assessment means and tools but assess one thing at a time.

Assessment Literacy. Topic 3. Dynamic Assessment

Topic 3

What is Dynamic Assessment? Do you know the basis of it?

There are four main methods of dynamic assessment. They are :
1.Testing the Limits.
2.Clinical Interview.
3.Graduating Prompting.
4.Test – Teach – Retest.

How to apply them when you design your test?

You can know the answers of these questions when you attend “Topic 3 Dynamic Assessment” which is the third topic of my FREE online course “Assessment Literacy” on Edmodo.com

To Follow the Course, you should:
1. Create a free account on Edmodo.com
2. Login to your account.
3. Join my group “Assessment Literacy”
* Join Group URL is https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi

A Quiz on “Types of Assessment”

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How much knowledge do you have about assessment? Do you know how many types of assessment there are? Can you differentiate between formative & summative assessment? Do you know the importance of diagnostic assessment? What is integrative assessment?

To assess to what extent your knowledge about assessment is good, you can do that quiz on https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi on “Types of Assessment” which is a topic of six-topic course on “Assessment Literacy”.

To Follow the Course, you should:
1. Create a free account on edmodo.com
2. Login to your account.
3. Join my group “Assessment Literacy”
* Join Group URL is https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi

Evaluation, Assessment and Measurement

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Evaluation is a purposeful, cyclical process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting relevant information in order to make qualitative judgments and take decisions concerning to certain performances, materials, activities, courses or programs in the light of certain aims, goals or objectives.

There are two types of evaluation:

1. Formative which is concerned mainly with forming and enhancing the process of learning. It is the ongoing assessment that teachers do into the classroom in order to decide to what extent they achieve their objectives or goals with the aim of making modifications for bringing about improvements.

2. Summative which is concerned with evaluating the whole knowledge of the learner and his/her progress & proficiency.

Evaluation has two sides: Measurement and assessment.

Measurement is the process of using certain tools, criteria and skills in order to make quantitative judgments of students’ achievements. Therefore measurement is impersonal and objective.

Assessment is the act of collecting information on individual learners’ performance proficiency and achievement in the light of certain objectives. Therefore assessment is personal and specific.

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