Types of tests used in English Language Teaching Bachelor Paper

We will commence our discussion with direct testing that according to Hughes (1989:14) means the involvement of a skill that

Types of tests used in English Language Teaching Bachelor Paper

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ing. That, consequently, will result in a stressful situation the student will find her/himself before or during the test, and the final outcome will be a complete deletion of the studied material. We can base that previous statement on our own experience: when working at school, the author of the present research had encountered such examples for many times.

However, very often the tests can facilitate the students acquisition process, i.e.: the students are to be checked the knowledge of the irregular verbs forms. Being constantly tested by means of a small test, they can learn them successfully and transfer them to their long-term memory, as well. Although, according to Thompson tests decrease practice and instruction time. What he means is that the students are as if limited; they are exposed to practice of a new material, however, very often the time implied for it is strictly recommended and observed by a syllabus. That denotes that there will be certain requirements when to use a test. Thus, the students find themselves in definite frames that the teacher will employ. Nevertheless, there could be advantages that tests can offer: they increase learning, for the students are supposed to study harder during the preparation time before a test.

Thompson (ibid.) quotes Eggan, who emphasises the idea that the learners study hard for the classes they are tested thoroughly. Further, he cites Hilles, who considers that the students want and expect to be tested. Nonetheless, this statement has been rather generalized. Speaking about the students at school, we can declare that there is hardly a student who will truly enjoy tests and their procedure. Usually, what we will see just sore faces when a test is being mentioned. According to Thompson, the above-mentioned idea could be applied to the students who want to pass their final exams or to get a certificate in Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or First Certificate (FCE). Mostly this concerns adults or the students who have their own special needs, such as going abroad to study or work. This again supports the idea that motivation factor plays a significant role in the learning process.

Moreover, too much of testing could be disastrous. It can entirely change the students attitude towards learning the language, especially if the results are usually dissatisfying and decrease their motivation towards learning and the subject in general.

Furthermore, as Alderson (1996:212) assumes, we should not forget that the tests when administered receive less support from the teacher as it is usually during the exercises in a usual language classroom. The students have to cope themselves; they cannot rely on the help of the teacher if they are in doubt. During a usual procedure when doing various activities the students know they can encounter the teachers help if they require it. They know the teacher is always near and ready to assist, therefore, no one is afraid to make a mistake and try to take a chance to do the exercises. However, when writing a test and being left alone to deal with the test activities, the students panic and forget everything they knew before. The author of the paper believes that first what the teacher should do is to teach the students to overcome their fear of tests and secondly, help them acquire the ability to work independently believing in their own knowledge. That ability according to Alderson is the main point, “the core meaning” of the test. The students should be given confidence. Here we can refer to Heaton (1990:7) who conceives, supported by Hicks, that students encouragement is a vital element in language learning. Another question that may emerge here is how to reach the goal described above, how to encourage the students. Thus, at this point we can speak about positive results. In fact, our success motivates us to study further, encourages us to proceed even if it is rather difficult and we are about to lose confidence in ourselves. Therefore, we can speak about the tests as a tool to increase motivation. However, having failed for considerable number of times, the student would definitely oppose the previous statement. Hence, we can speak about assessment and evaluation as means for increasing the students motivation.

Concerning Hicks (2000:162), we often perceive these two terms evaluating and assessment as two similar notions, though they are entirely different. She states that when we assess our students we commonly are interested in “how and how much our students have learnt”, but when we evaluate them we are concerned with “how the learning process is developing”. These both aspects are of great importance for the teacher and the students and should be correlated in order to make evaluation and assessment “go hand in hand”. However, very frequently, the teachers assess the students without taking the aspect of evaluation into account. According to Hicks, this assessment is typically applied when dealing with examinations that take place either at the end of the course or school year. Such assessment is known as achievement test. With the help of these tests the teacher receives a clear picture of what his/her students have learnt and which level they are comparing with the rest of the class. The author of the paper agrees that achievement tests are very essential for comparing how the students knowledge has changed during the course. This could be of a great interest not only for the teacher, but also for the authorities of the educational establishment the teacher is employed by. Thus, evaluation of the learning process is not of the major importance here. We can speak about evaluation when we deal with “small” tests the teachers use during the course or studying year. It is a well-known fact that these tests are employed in order to check how the learning process is going on, where the students are, what difficulties they encounter and what they are good at. These tests are also called “diagnostic” tests; they could be of a great help for the teacher: judging from the results of the test, analysing them the teacher will be able to improve or alter the course and even introduce various innovations. These tests will define whether the teacher can proceed with the new material or has to stop and return to what has not been learnt sufficiently in order to implement additional practice.

With respect to Hicks, we can display some of her useful and practical ideas she proposes for the teachers to use in the classroom. In order to incorporate evaluation together with assessment she suggests involving the students directly into the process of testing. Before testing vocabulary the teacher can ask the students to guess what kind of activities could be applied in the test. The author of the paper believes that it will give them an opportunity to visage how they are going to be tested, to be aware of and wait for, and the most important, it will reduce fear the students might face. Moreover, at the end of each test the students could be asked their reflections: if there was a multiple choice, what helped them guess correctly, what they used for that their schemata or just pure guessing; if there was a cloze test - did they use guessing from the context or some other skills, etc. Furthermore, Hicks emphasises that such analysis will display the students the way they are tested and establish an appropriate test for each student. Likewise, evaluation will benefit the teacher as well. S/he not only will be able to discover the students preferences, but also find out why the students have failed a particular type of activity or even the whole test. The evaluation will determine what is really wrong with the structure or design of the test itself. Finally, the students should be taught to evaluate the results of the test. They should be asked to spot the places they have failed and together with the teacher attempt to find out what has particularly caused the difficulties. This will lead to consolidation of the material and may be even to comprehension of it. And again the teachers role is very essential, for the students alone are not able to cope with their mistakes. Thus, evaluation is inevitable element of assessment if the teachers aim is to design a test that will not make the students fail, but on the contrary, anticipate the tests results.

To conclude we can add alluding to Alderson (1996:212) that the usual classroom test should not be too complicated and should not discriminate between the levels of the students. The test should test what was taught. The author of the paper has the same opinion, for the students are very different and the level of their knowledge is different either. It is inappropriate to design a test of advanced level if among your learners there are those whose level hardly exceeds lower intermediate.

Above all, the tests should take the learners ability to work and think into account, for each student has his/her own pace, and some students may fail just because they have not managed to accomplish the required tasks in time.

Furthermore, Alderson assumes (ibid.) that the instructions of the test should be unambiguous. The students should clearly see what they are supposed and asked to do and not to be frustrated during the test. Otherwise, they will spend more time on asking the teacher to explain what they are supposed to do, but not on the completing of the tasks themselves. Finally, according to Heaton (1990:10) and Alderson (1996:214), the teacher should not give the tasks studied in the classroom for the test. They explain it by the fact, that when testing we need to learn about the students progress, but not to check what they remember. The author of the paper concurs the idea and assumes that the one of the aims of the test is to check whether the students are able to apply their knowled

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