What is the purpose of classroom testing, assessment and evaluation?

When we think of testing, we often think of TOEFL or IELTS. These high stakes exams, with their potential to help make or break futures, are what many think of as the typical exam.

In classes across the world, teachers emulate these exams by using the same question types e.g. multiple choice questions (MCQs).

Often, testing, assessment or evaluation is reduced to a quiz of some kind. Students get a mark, and that’s the end of the story.

At the same time, people in the testing industry, who are mainly involved with the big examination bodies, cannot understand why teachers cannot grasp the ideas of validity and reliability.

I think that unless ‘testing people’ are not teaching themselves, they will never be able to understand class dynamics, and thus why there is such a gap or disconnect between those with testing knowledge, and people who want to assess in the classroom. But is it really up to people who are testers? What about teachers? What’s their take on this? Are they worried? Are they also unhappy about testing in their contexts?

In the Middle East, there is a tendency to reduce the role of teachers to just receiving centrally written quizzes and tests. In reality this reflects the lack of confidence in teacher testing ability.

There are a lot of issues.

I think we need to simplify things and create a take-off point, from which teachers can move forward in terms of their testing knowledge. Let’s keep the testing and assessment jargon to one side.

What I’m proposing, is that we start off with a simple question. The question being. “What is the purpose of classroom testing, assessment and evaluation?”

Once we have the answer to this, we can then take the discussion further. I have my own answers, but if you are a teacher, who teaches a language, what in your view is the purpose of a test?

Once you have an idea of this, it’ll open doors, and hopefully result in an innovative movement in testing, although it’ll be a tough job to convince those who see testing as merely a score producing exercise. But the point is, that we need to look at the classroom as a different context, and study it’s dynamics. The classroom is a learning environment. The role of testing has to be seen as something that contributes to this. Unless we start looking at testing in this sense, it is difficult to see how large numbers of teachers will see tests as anything beyond the merely producing a score.

Lastly, we mustn’t forget our most important stakeholder, the student. After all, they are the ones directly affected by all of this.

Until next time..

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A New Year one month too late?

Hi,

Whereas many people around the world are celebrating the beginning of the new year i.e. 2012 (Gregorian) many people around the world are more used to the Lunar or Hijri calendar. Today, on the 1st of January 2012 (Gregorian), the Hijri (Lunar) calendar date is the 7th of Safar, 1433. This is the second month of the year. The Hijri calendar also has 12 months. In case you are wondering why there seems to be a 600 plus year difference in the calendars, this is simple – both calendars have ‘spiritual’ origins. The Gregorian has origins in Christian tradition whereas the Hijri calendar has origins in Islamic tradition.

Here’s a 1 minute song to help people remember the months of the Hijri calendar. Have a good year ahead!! You could use this topic to create a listening, speaking, reading or writing activity.

Do you eat with your hands?


Hi! Although many of us may eat with a knife, a spoon or a fork, there are a lot of people who eat using their hands.  

Before you start thinking that it is rather disgusting licking your fingers after the end of a meal, research indicates that licking fingers helps the digestive process because it results in the release of appropriate fluids to help break down the food further.  I usually eat with utensils such as a knife and fork, and sometimes use my hands when eating pizza.

However, when in the mood, I’ll eat rice with my hands. Usually at home but even sometimes at weddings in Saudi Arabia. When in the UK (England) and in a public place, I revert to knife and fork. To be honest though, there is nothing like getting your hands dirty with some rice and lentils.  

How do people eat in your culture? Please add a comment below.

Discover Your *Top 10* True Core Values – We want to hear from you

An excellent video in which the person speaks very clearly about a particular topic. As your English develops, you need to be able to speak about more complex subjects using more complex and advanced vocabulary. Importantly, it’s not the accent that matters, it’s the clarity which you need to aim for. And for those who are watching out of curiosity, what you say, counts too.

Task?: Write down your core values below. Come on, show us you understand the video, and write about it. We want to hear from you ‘the people’!

How To Write Reviews Of Gadgets – Teaching Ideas

Learning steps:
Step 1: Play the video and just listen to it. Make notes if you want.
Step 2: Try to answer the questions below.
Step 3: If you can’t remember everything, play the video again
Step 4: Try to answer the questions again.
Step 5: Now think about the video. Did you like it? Was it boring or exciting? Was it clear?
Activities:
What three things do you need to write a gadget?
How many steps are there?
Can you remember two steps?
How much does the average family spend on gadgets a year?
After the video has finished:
Write a few questions about the video to ask your classmates/friends/colleagues
What does tech-savvy mean? Are you tech-savvy? Discuss with your classmates/friends/colleagues