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Assessing Learning

Authentic assessment Kate D

Ann Gravells 4
does offer terminology
• To assess Ss learning what do you need to
• How do you find that out?
Key points
Key points
Specific - What specific skill or ability is the focus of your goal?
Mesurable - How will you know when you have accomplished
your goal?

Attainable - Will you be able to accomplish your goal in the

time available?

Relevant - How is your goal relevant to your other goals or


Trackable - How can you monitor the skill or ability that is the
focus of your goal over time?
• One of the most challenging tasks for
language instructors is finding effective ways
to determine what and how much their
students are actually learning.
• Instructors need to think carefully about what
kinds of knowledge their tests allow students
to demonstrate.
• What is assessment?
• Why do Ts assess students?
• What do Ts assess?
• When do Ts assess learning?
• How do Ts assess learning?
Tasks, reasons, marking process
1. Tests;
2. T keeps a note of strengths and wekanesses but does not give Ss a
grade for their work;
3. Classroom activities e.g. discussions, role-plays;
4. Ss get a grade for their work e.g. pass, fail, 70%;
5. To help Ts select appropriate materials and activities for lessons;
6. To give feedback to Ls about how they can improve their learning;
7. To assess overall language ability or proficiency;
8. To assess learning at the end of a course, to decide if Ls can move on
to next level;
9. Homework tasks;
10. To provide feedback to the T so that (s)he can find out aspects of
his/her teaching are useful and successful.
How does this cycle fit into your teaching practice?

Identify Student
learning goals

Use assessment results

Design course /
to revise goals ,
curriculum to meet
methodology or

Assess learning to
Provide learning
identify revision to
course or curriculum
Traditional Tests
• Traditional pencil-and-paper tests ask
students to read or listen to a selection and
then answer questions about it, or to choose
or produce a correct grammatical form or
vocabulary item. Such tests can be helpful as
measures of students' knowledge of language
forms and their listening and reading
comprehension ability.
Pencil-and-paper tests
• However, teachers need to consider whether
these tests are accurate reflections of authentic
language use. The tests usually do not present
reading comprehension and listening
comprehension questions until after students
have read or listened to the selection. In real life,
however, people know what information they are
seeking before they read or listen. That is, they
have specific information gaps in mind as they
begin, and those gaps define the purpose.
Pencil-and-paper tests

• Teachers also need to be careful about what

such tests are actually testing. E.g. A quiz on
which Ss listen to a selection and then
respond to written questions is testing reading
ability as well as listening skills and will give a
lower-than-appropriate score for Ss whose
oral comprehension is stronger than their
reading comprehension.
• Language teachers also encounter Ss who do
well on pencil-and-paper tests of grammar
and sentence structure, but make mistakes
when using the same forms in oral interaction.
In such cases, the test is indicating what
students know about the language, but is not
providing an accurate measure of what they
are able to actually do with it.
• When the goal of language instruction is the
development of communicative competence,
teachers can supplement (or, in some cases,
replace) traditional tests with alternative
assessment methods that provide more
accurate measures of progress towards
communication proficiency goals. This can be
done by combining formative and summative
types of assessment.
• Any comments on the reading?
• What do you understand by formative and
• Can you think of examples of both?

Matching jargon
Formative x summative
• Takes place on an ongoing basis as instruction is
• Rates the student in terms of functional ability to
communicate, using criteria that the student has
helped to identify
• Helps students recognize ways of improving their
• Is the approach taken by alternative assessment
Formative x summative
• Takes place at the end of a predetermined period
of instruction (e.g. mid-term, final)
• Rates the student in relation to an external
standard of correctness (how many right answers
are given)
• Is the approach taken by most traditional and
standardized tests
Formative Assessment or
monitoring progress
• Read the suggestions on the next slides and
1. Who does the assessing?
2. Are the ideas practical?
3. Which idea do you like best? Why?
4. Which idea do you like least? Why?
Assessing or monitoring progress

1. Every lesson is an opportunity for teachers to

assess how well students are doing. If you
monitor what they say closely, you will know if
they are making progress.
2. My learners are told to keep a learning diary –
a few notes at the end of each lesson stating
what they learned, how much they
understood and if they liked it.
3. I tell students what we have done – write a
list or dictate – and next to each item 3
columns with “confident”, “OK”, “need
practice”. They tick the appropriate box, check
with peers and see what they can sort out
among themselves. They tell me what is still
under the “need practice” column and I
provide it the following class.
• Form trios and go round the stations.
Alternative assessment
• Alternative assessment uses activities that reveal
what students can do with language,
emphasizing their strengths instead of their
• Alternative assessment is different from
traditional tests, and it is also graded or scored
• Because alternative assessment is performance
based, it helps Ts emphasize that the point of
language learning is communication for
meaningful purposes.
• Alternative assessment methods work well in
learner-centered classrooms because they are
based on the idea that Ss can evaluate their own
learning and learn from the evaluation process.
These methods give learners opportunities to
reflect on both their linguistic development and
their learning processes (what helps them learn
and what might help them learn better).
Alternative assessment thus gives Ts a way to
connect assessment with review of learning
Features of alternative assessment:

• Assessment is based on authentic tasks that

demonstrate learners' ability to accomplish
communication goals
• Teacher and learners focus on communication,
not on right and wrong answers
• Learners help to set the criteria for successful
completion of communication tasks
• Learners have opportunities to assess
themselves and their peers
• Successful use of alternative assessment
depends on using performance tasks that let
students demonstrate what they can actually do
with language.
• Many of the activities that take place in
communicative classrooms lend themselves to
this type of assessment.
• These activities replicate the kinds of challenges,
and allow for the kinds of solutions, that learners
would encounter in communication outside the
• Because alternative assessment depends on
direct observation, Ts can most easily begin to
use it when evaluating students‘ individual
speaking tasks such as presentations.
• Once the T feels comfortable with checklists and
rubrics, they can also be used when observing
students interacting in small groups.
• When doing this, however, the T needs to be
aware that group dynamics will have an effect on
the performance of each individual.
• Often used for observing performance in order to
keep track of a student's progress or work over
time. They can also be used to determine whether
students have met established criteria on a task.
• To construct a checklist, identify the different
parts of a specific communication task and any
other requirements associated with it. Create a list
of these with columns for marking yes and no.
• Checklists can be useful for classroom
assessment because they are easy to
construct and use, and they align closely with
• At the same time, they are limited in that
they do not provide an assessment of the
relative quality of a student's performance
on a particular task.
Group work
• Form quartets
• Design a task and a checklist for one of the following:
1. Assess learning of exponents to ask for and give
personal information
2. Assess use of the present perfect to talk about past
3. Assess use of lexis used to give physical descriptions
4. Assess use of if clauses to talk about hypothetical
Formal assessment, evaluation:
When a teacher judges students’ work through a test and then
gives a formal report or grade to students, to say how
successful or unsuccessful they have been.
Informal assessment, evaluation:
When a teacher decides whether a student is doing well or not,
or whether a course is successful or not, but without a test or
an official report or grade.
Self-assessment, evaluation:
When students decide for themselves if they think their progress
or language use is good or not.
Cloze test:
A type of task in which students read a text with words missing and
try to work out the missing words. The missing words are
removed regularly from the text, e.g. every seventh word. A
cloze test is used for testing reading ability or general language
use. This is different to a xxx activity which can focus on testing a
specific language point.
Achievement test:
An achievement test is used to see how well students have learnt
the language taught in class. Achievement tests are often at the
end of term or end of the year and test the main points of what
has been taught in that time.
A diagnostic test is used to identify problems that students have
with language. The teacher diagnoses the language problems
students have. It helps the teacher to plan what to teach in
Objective test:
An objective test is marked without using the examiner’s
opinion, e.g. true/false questions, multiple choice questions.
There is a clear right answer.
Placement test:
A placement test is used at the beginning of a course to identify
a student’s level of language and find the best class for them.
Proficiency test:
A proficiency test is used to see how good students are at
language, or use of the language. The contents of a
proficiency test are not chosen according to what has been
taught, but according to what is needed for a particular
Progress test:
A progress test is used during a course in order to assess the
learning up to that point.
Subjective test:
A subjective test is marked using the examiner’s opinion about
the quality of the answer. The answer is not simply right or
wrong, e.g. marking written stories, compositions, interviews,
conversations, story-telling.
Summative test:
A summative test is used at the end of a course.
In terms of assessment, validity refers to the extent to which a
test's content is representative of the actual skills learned and
whether the test can allow accurate conclusions concerning
Reliability :
In terms of assessment, a test is considered xxx if it allows for
stable estimates of student ability. In other words, it achieves
similar results for students who have similar ability and
knowledge levels.
Criterion-referenced tests:
A test in which questions are written according to specific
predetermined criteria. A student knows what your standards
are for passing and only competes against him or herself while
completing the test.
Norm-referenced tests:
This type of test determines a student's placement on a normal
distribution curve. Students compete against each other on
this type of assessment. This is what is being referred to with
the phrase, 'grading on a curve'.
Holistic grading:
A method of grading that has teachers grade in a more intuitive
manner. Generally, a group of teachers gets together, decides
on criteria for grading, and then quickly grades a set of papers
based on the criteria.