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Language assessment


Applied Linguistics Language assessment. Portfolio APPLIED LINGUISTICS CAROL GIRN GARCIA 25/10/2013




Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio



When we hear the word assessment we often tend to identify it with testing and its functions but we must know that they are not similar. Testing involves methods, measurement, performance and a certain domain, is simply a method of measuring a persons ability, knowledge , or performance in a given domain. So, when we take into account the methods used in testing, we must reflect principally upon the structure. Then, a test estimates the individuals ability and intelligence but also his knowledge and performance. In other words, tests are one of the classifications of assessment. However, we should specify the disadvantages of the traditional testing which often involve test-taking skills but not content knowledge, anxiety and lack of familiarity with test layout. The result may be another than what we expected. On the other hand, assessment focuses on the methods of improving childrens teaching and learning in order to flourish their knowledge and to provide a new and propitious one. It is basically a process which concerns student learning, achievement, motivation, and attitudes on instructionally relevant classroom activities. The main objective of classroom teachers is to receive regular information of the intelligence level of their pupils, on how their knowledge, skills and understanding are developing. Teachers have to be acquainted to the manner in which they should modify their teaching and to determine what kind of feedback is needed to improve pupils learning. They are continually analyzing the students comments, answers and ideas but also their written works and almost subconsciously assess their performance. But in order to do it correctly, teachers must create situations in which the students feel free to think, choose, decide, take risks, in other words, to experiment new ways of acquiring knowledge.

As a synopsis of what was said before, we can consider the following statement: An ideal assessment system would reflect the full complexity of language as school subject (LS), and would motivate learners by giving useful feedback, while also providing other stake-holders (e.g. policyApplied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio


makers and employers) with the information they need. An integrated approach to assessment would ensure that the different purposes and approaches are balanced so that no one priority has adverse and undue influence on the system as a whole. (Mike Fleming, University of Durham, United Kingdom) Moreover, we can distinguish the two main functions of language assessment. One of them is to establish a criterion about learners efficiency and weather they have achieved the goals of a particular plan of learning or not. The other one is to distinguish between formative and summative but also between informal and formal assessment.


Approaches to assessment

A) Formative and summative assessment Formative assessment is focused on the emphasis given to the feedback, on the improvement during a course and how the received information should be adjusted. It relies on performance, delivery, internalization in order to support the growth process and is enforced by informal tests and quizzes. They have as an objective the ceaseless evolution of the learners language Summative assessment aims to make judgments and to measure the student level of comprehension at the end of the course, semester or unit of instruction. This implies recollecting of how well the student has fulfilled his goals. It is also called assessment of learning.

B) Informal and formal assessment Informal assessment refers to all the casual comments, random responses and improvised feedback given by the teacher in a classroom. It also deals with making fixed judgments about a students competence. Examples include saying: Nice work!, Well done!, Did you say
Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio 3


can or cant? or marginal comments on papers, responding to a draft of an essay, advice about pronunciation and any suggestion about reading or writing. In contrast, formal assessments include organized methods which occur periodically in the course as, for example, a systematic set of observations of a students frequency of oral participation in class.

1.2 Principles of Language Assessment

Language assessment has nine important principles which can be applied to the evaluation of classroom tests: practicality, reliability, validity, content-related evidence, criterion-related evidence, constructrelated evidence, consequential validity, face validity, and authenticity.
Practicality refers to effectiveness, staying within the appropriate time constrains and relatively easy to administer. Reliability is concerned with consistence and dependence. The same test cannot be given to the same student on two different occasions. Validity, the extent to which inferences made from assessment results are appropriate, meaningful, and useful in terms of the purpose of the assessment. Content-Related Evidence defines the authenticity of the text and reflects if the achievement that has been measured acquired its aim.

Criterion-Related Evidence holds the idea that a test has achieved its purpose only when the criterion has actually been reached. Construct-Related Evidence also supports validity and refers to any theory, hypothesis, or model that tends to give an explanation observed phenomena in our universe of perceptions. Consequential Validity is concerned with all the consequences of a test, its accuracy in measuring intended criteria but also its effect on the learner. Face Validity determines how fair, relevant and useful is the assessment in order to improve learning and is focused on subjective judgments of the persons who take it. Authenticity is enacted to the real world
Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio



Self-assessment or reflection

A designated notebook in which students can write independently or in response to specific prompts.

Can be used before, during or after an activity for: -Planning or organization -Making connections -Monitoring thinking -Metacognition -Reflection or recognition -Pre-assessment -Ongoing assessment -Post-assessment Can be used to collect reflective information that may not emerge through other kinds of assessment Can be used as a post-or summative assessment in which students demonstrate learning as well as writing and communication skills.

Quiz Interview or conferencing

Usually closed, possibly with some open-ended items Self-assessment or reflection

A means of checking students understanding or progress. A meeting with an individual student or small groups of students

Essay or extended writing activity

Open task

Extended project

Performance task


Usually a combination of closed and open tasks, such as multiple-choice followed by an essay.

A written product in which students convey, apply and synthesize information and ideas or create a poetic or fictional work A series of related tasks in which: -Students engage in a variety of processes, often including research and cooperative group work -Students solve a problem or create a designated product or products that may be written, oral, visual A means of measuring achievement.


Open task or Performance task as well as Self-Assessment

A collection of students products gathered over a period of time

Can be used as a summative assessment at the end of an instructional unit. Can also be used by teachers to monitor effectiveness of instructions Can be used to measure long-term progress, and as a student selfassessment tool


Portfolio development is one of the most prevailing alternatives in assessment and, according to Genesee and Upshur (1996) is defined as: a purposeful collection of students work that demonstrates their
Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio


efforts, progress, and achievements in given areas. It is also a process of collecting, selecting, organizing and reflecting which reflects the student knowledge. This type of assessment has six principal attributes: collecting, reflecting, assessing, documenting, linking and evaluating. As collections, portfolios indicate the student life and identity. The student should be free to select what to include in the portfolio but at the same time the purposes of the portfolio need to be clearly specified. Reflective practice through journals and self-assessment checklists is an important ingredient of a successful portfolio. As we know, a portfolio is simply a document which reflects the student level of achievement and can serve as an important link between student and teacher. And finally, evaluation of portfolios is a time-consuming process that generates accountability. Portfolio has some distinguished principles that teachers utilize for the assessment purposes: is continuous and ongoing, therefore the value of a portfolio is its ability to show development over time; is multidimensional and so, the portfolio should contain a wide range of artifacts demonstrating a number of different learning processes and a variety of different assessment tools; is selective which means that students understand themselves as learners; has clearly defined criteria which must be clearly understood by the teacher and the students from the beginning of the process. (Chriest&Maher, 2003; Wolf&SuiRunyan, 1996). Successful portfolio development will depend in following a number of steps and guidelines: a. State objectives clearly. The student must show how the purposes of the portfolio are connected to, integrated with and reinforced of the already curricular goals. b. Give guidelines on what materials to include. Once the information and the objectives are clear, name the types of work that should be included. c. Communicate assessment criteria to students. This is both the most important aspect of portfolio development and the most complex. Self-assessment should be as clear and simple as possible.
Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio


d. Designate time within the curriculum for portfolio development. When the students run out of time gathering materials, the effectiveness of the portfolio process is diminished. e. Establish periodic schedules for review and conferencing. By doing so, will prevent students from feel rushed at the end of the term. f. Designate an accessible place to keep portfolios. 2.2. Purposes of portfolios: To promote student control of learning To track student progress To demonstrate individual growth To respond to individual needs To evaluate and report on students progress To facilitate student-led conferences To show process and product To show final products To show student achievement with respect to specific curricular goals To document achievement for alternative credit To accumulate best work for admission to other educational institutions or program For employment purposes

2.3. Types of portfolio The showcase portfolio: is a collection of artifacts that represent students best efforts. The growth portfolio: its intent is to demonstrate growth in particular skills over time. Typically this type of portfolio is used within a single area such as a writing portfolio, a math portfolio, a social skills portfolio, etc. The selected works portfolio: is a collection of a student's best efforts. These portfolios tend to be representative of work in a single area and as such will provide evidence of the achievement of the significant objectives in that curricular area.
Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio


The passportfolio: o provides evidence that a student has achieved a degree of competency in a particular area and is ready to move on to the next level of education.

Portfolios get a relatively low practicality because of the time it takes for teachers to respond and conference with their students. N Nevertheless, following the guidelines suggested above for specifying the criteria for evaluating portfolios can raise the reliability to a respectable level, and without question the authenticity and the validity of portfolios remain exceedingly high.


I personally love this type of assessment because of the many advantages that it provides. I consider that students can improve their skills but also their level of responsibility and interest in completing the tasks that portfolios involve.
All in all I think that teaching but also learning could develop in a wonderful way through the utilization of this kind of assessment.

Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio


5. BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1. Brown, H. Douglas. Language Assessment Principles and Classroom Practic, California: Pearson Longman, 2003. 2. Oakey, David and Susan Hunston. Introducing Applied Linguistics. Concepts and skills, Oxon: Taylor &Francis eLibrary, 2009 3. Srosdy, Judit, Tams Farczdi Bencze, Zoltn Por and Marianna Vadnay. Applied Linguistics I for BA Students in English, Bolczsz Konzorcium, 2006 4. Waldemar Martyniuk, Mike Fleming and Jos Noijons. Evaluation and assessment within the domain of Language(s) of Education, Strasbourg: Language Policy Division, 2007 5. Apuntes Aula Virtual. Introduction to Applied Linguistics 6. /assessments_EN.asp 7.

Applied Linguistics | Language assessment. Portfolio