Relationship between testing and teaching


relationship between testing and teaching

One of the major milestones listed, “Recognizing the difference between testing and teaching,” is the focus of this blog posting. It represents. The connection between one's teaching and one's testing is a crit-ical one that, if properly understood, can lead to a substantial increase in instructional. This paper investigates the extent to which teaching and testing are interrelated, research revealed that the coefficient of correlation between language in use.

If testing always had a beneficial washback on teaching, it would have a much better reputation amongst teachers. Assessment authorities sometimes use assessment reform to drive curriculum reform, believing that the assessment can be designed to have positive washback on the curriculum.

However, research has shown that washback phenomenon is often unpredictable. Whether or not, the desired effect is achieved may depend on the local conditions in the classrooms, the established traditions of teaching, the immediate motivation of learners, and the frequently unpredictable ways in which classroom interactions develop McNamara.

The wider effect of tests on the community as a whole is sometimes referred to as test impact. Bachman and Palmer believe that washback is a more complex phenomenon than simply the influence of a test on teaching and learning. Moreover, they suggest test impact should be viewed in terms of both its micro effects in a classroom as well as its macro effects on educational systems and societies. They stated that just as micro and macro economics have synergistic patterns, a synergism often exists between micro and macro test impact.

In many cases, tests both influence and are influenced by the social climates in which they are used. In the Hughes framework, participants refer to those whose perceptions and attitudes toward their work may be affected by a test.

They include language learners and teachers, administrators, materials developers, and publishers. The term process covers any actions taken by the participants which may contribute to the process of learning. Finally, in Hughes framework, product refers to what is learned and the quality of learning. A test definitely influences the participants, process and product. Moreover, a test affects the content of teaching, teaching methodology, ways of assessing achievement, and direction Bachman and Palmer, In the following sections, the test washback effects on different participants are reviewed.

As Bachman and Palmer suggest, learners can be influenced by three aspects of testing procedure 1 the experience of taking and of preparing for the test, 2 the feedback they receive about their performance on the test, and 3 the decisions that may be made about them on the basis of their test scores p.

Moreover, they believe that learners should be involved in all phases of test development. They claim that one way to promote the potential for positive impact is through involving learners in the design and development of the test, as well as collecting information from them about their perceptions of the test and test tasks. Learners may have to spend a reasonable amount of time to prepare and practice for a test.

Bailey claims that students faced with an important test might participate in processes like practicing items similar to the ones in the test, studying grammar and vocabulary, reading and listening in the target language, applying test strategies, enrolling test preparation courses and requesting feedback on their performance.

All or some of these might be applied by the learners depending on the characteristics of the test. For instance, if they are going to sit for the universities entrance exam in Iran, they will not focus on the speaking skill as it is not tested in the test.

As Bailey claims, in some societies learner washback has important financial implications for the students and their families, in terms of their access to educational opportunities. This case is similar to the one in Iran. Students have to attend expensive private classes and prepare themselves for taking the universities entrance exam. They have to spend all their evenings, weekends, and vacations to study for the exam if they intend to pursue their education in the tertiary level.

They believe that a test will influence learning, will influence what and how learners learn, the rate and sequence of learning, and will influence the degree and depth of learning. Bachman and Palmer claim that teachers may find teaching to the test almost unavoidable although they may personally prefer to teach certain material in a specific way.

Several studies have been conducted on the effect of tests on educational systems and language teaching methods Mizutani, ; Luxia, ; Cheng, ; Hughes ; Lam. It is a generally accepted fact that the teachers direct their teaching methods towards the exam that their students are going to take. Cheng gives an example of a change in Hong Kong Certificate of Education examination and reports that teachers gave up practicing reading aloud type of activities after the test excluded this part and instead they started role-play tasks and group discussions which took place of reading aloud.

Differences between Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation

However, this is not the case all the time. A change in the test does not always guarantee a beneficial change in the language curriculum. Luxia reports about a change in National Matriculation English Test in China which had two major purposes: It has been found out that these two purposes were conflicting with each other so rather than changing the curriculum towards a communicative one, they ended up with the same kind of memorization of grammar rules and vocabulary.

The other participants including the parents, policy makers, teacher educators and curriculum planners, educational specialists, institutions, materials developers and publishers are all affected. A common theme available in the literature on other related participants is the dynamic tension between the intended positive washback in implementing new or revised exams and how that impact is realized in classroom practices.

Washback has various definitions as many as those who have written about it. Some take it as the effect of a test on learning and teaching and some take a broader sense and claim that it is the effect of the test on numerous participants like test takers, teachers, policy makers, test designers, parents and society. It can be concluded that language testing washback has often been discussed and is widely held to exist; however, until recently very little empirical research has investigated the phenomenon in detail.

It can also be pointed out that positive washback is regarded as an important criterion in the development and evaluation of language tests. Issues in Language Testing eds.

Applied Linguistics, 14, Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing. Language Testing in Practice. Washback in Language Testing. Retrieved March 31, from the website.

Principles of Learning and Teaching. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 24 3 Principles of language testing. Writing English language tests.

Chapter 1. The Links Between Testing and Teaching

Introducing a needs-based test of English language proficiency into an English-medium university in Turkey. ELT Documents pp. Testing for Language Teachers. Unpublished Manuscript, University of Reading. Methodology washback—an insider's view. Proceedings of the International Language in Education Conference pp. University of Hong Kong.

relationship between testing and teaching

The availability of the impeachment process tends to decrease the stability of the executive branch of U. Historically, the judicial branch of U. Sample Item 3 Our founding fathers charted a meaningful series of governmental checks and balances.


Focus on the area of taxation, then select two of the three branches and briefly describe the formal way s in which one branch can check the other. Answer in the space provided below. Sample Item 1 makes it clear that students will need to learn the primary responsibilities of each governmental branch.

Sample Item 2 suggests that students must learn why important factors such as governmental stability are present for each branch. For this item, as you can see, the focus is on formal. In another item, you can reasonably assume, the focus might be on informal.

relationship between testing and teaching

Moreover, Sample Item 3 tips you off that students may need to display this understanding by constructing their own responses, rather than merely selecting a response from a set of options. I believe that elementary teachers who consider these three illustrative items along with the original statement of the content standard are going to have a far more lucid idea of what the content standard actually means.

Consequently, they'll be able to deliver instruction that is more on-target and more effective. The payoffs from test-triggered clarity about curriculum goals can apply with equal force to a teacher's own, personally chosen curricular aspirations. If teachers are pursuing curricular aims of their own choosing, but those aims are less clear in a teacher's mind than is desirable for instructional planning purposes, then teachers are likely to come up with less relevant instruction.

However, for their final exam, I had them answer multiple-choice items about the mechanics of writing. The task of creating a few sample assessment items can bring the desired outcomes into focus. In short, test-exemplified curricular goals will almost always be better promoted instructionally than will unexemplified curricular goals. Because of the significance of tests in helping teachers clarify their instructional targets, I'm going to dig into this topic a bit more deeply in Chapter 2.

Using Tests to Determine Students' Entry Status In most instructional settings, teachers inherit a new crop of students each year, and more often than not, these teachers really don't know what sorts of capabilities the new students bring with them.

Likewise, teachers looking ahead in their planning books to new topics or skills weather systems, Homer's epics, multiplying fractions, group discussion skills, ability to work independently frequently find they have only the roughest idea, usually based on the previous grade level's content standards, of their students' existing familiarity or interest in the upcoming topics or of their students' expertise in the upcoming skill areas.

Knowing where students stand in relation to future content, both as a group and as individuals, is one of a teacher's most valuable tools in planning appropriate and engaging instruction. Therefore, it's an eminently sensible thing for teachers to get a fix on their students' entry status by pre-assessing them, usually using teacher-created tests to find out what sorts of skills, knowledge, or attitudes these students have.

The more diagnostic a pretest is, the more illuminating it will be to the teacher.

  • What's in a Name?
  • Why We Test
  • What Do We Mean by Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation?

You can use pretests to isolate the things your new students already know as well as the things you will need to teach them. If you are a middle school English teacher aspiring to have your 8th graders write gripping narrative essays, and you're certain that these 8th graders haven't seriously studied narrative essays during their earlier years in school, you could use a pre-assessment to help you determine whether your students possess important enabling subskills. Can they, for example, write sentences and paragraphs largely free of mechanical errors in spelling, punctuation, and word usage?

If their pre-assessment results show that they already possess these enabling subskills, there's no need to re-teach such subskills.

If the pre-assessment results show that your students' mastery of the mechanics of writing is modest, then you'll need to devote appropriate time to promoting such subskills before you move on. This example brings up an important point. If you're using a classroom pretest chiefly to get a picture of what your students already can do regarding a particular content standard, you should always try to employ a pretest that covers the standard's key enabling subskills or bodies of knowledge.

For instance, when I taught a speech class in high school, I always had my students deliver a two- to three-minute extemporaneous speech early in the term. Thanks to a blessed red geography textbook and my ability to read more rapidly than my 10th graders, I survived the experience barely.

I remember that one of my units was three-week focus on map projections and map skills, during which we explored the use of such map-types as Mercator and homolographic projections. Each year that I taught 10th grade geography, my three-week unit on maps was always precisely three weeks in length.

I never altered the duration of the unit because, after all, I had originally estimated that it would take 15 days of teaching to stuff the designated content into my students' heads.

Beginning teachers often are. I always gave my students a item map skills exam at the end of the 3 weeks; I could easily have taken that exam and split it up into 15 microquizzes of 1 or 2 items each, and then randomly administered each of those microquizzes to different students at the end of, say, 2 weeks.

Students would have needed only two or three minutes to complete their microquizzes. This approach is a form of what's called item sampling, a manner of testing in which different students are asked to complete different subsamples of items from a test. It works quite well if a teacher is trying to get a fix on the status of an entire class. Clearly, item sampling wouldn't permit sensible inferences about individual students because different students would be completing different microquizzes.