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• Evaluation / Assessment of language learning
– Language proficiency and language performance
• Programs evaluation
• Curriculum evaluation (Richards, 2001)
– Focuses of evaluation
– Purposes of evaluation
– Issues in program evaluation
– Procedures used in conducting evaluations
Evaluation of language learning
• Evaluation and assessment:
– Evaluation: the process of systematic analysis and judgement of the success (or not) of a teaching programme or a syllabus. Teacher judgements based on data are also involved. Assessment data is frequently included in the process of evaluation.
– Assessment: processes involved in determination of student/learner progress or achievement, usually against predetermined objectives, standards, or outcomes. These processes often require that teachers make judgements on the basis of available data.
Language proficiency and performance
• Competence, performance, and progress
• Issues in measurement of accuracy, fluency, complexity and adequacy
• Competence: is concerned with the leaner’s knowledge and understanding of the various facets of the language.
• Performance: is concerned with how well the learner can use this knowledge to do things with the language (i.e., perform tasks).
• Progress: is concerned with changes over time in either/both of the above.
– “the degree of deviancy from a particular norm … usually characterised as errors” (Housen & Kuiken, 2009, p. 463).
– Accuracy alone is not a direct indicator of language development
– Questions: Should they reflect prescriptive standards (and thus ‘native-speaker’ norms) or non-standard and even non-native usages acceptable in some contexts/communities?
– Broad definitions of L2 fluency focus on general command of the spoken language, e.g.,
• “smooth and rapid production of utterances, without undue hesitations and pauses, that results from constant use and repetitive
practice” (Gatbonton & Segalowits, 2005, p. 326).
– In a communicative language teaching perspective
• It generally refers to effectiveness of language production given the limits of learner proficiency (Chambers, 1998).
• Fluency – cont’d
– A range of variables open to measurement:
• Speech or speaking rate
• Amount of speech
• Articulation rate
• Phonation / time ratio
• Mean length of runs
• Pauses or hesitation phenomena
– Some other measures
• Number of dysfluencies per minute
• Pace, the number of stressed words per minute
• Prosodic features of speech such as pitch in listeners’ perceptions of fluency.
• Self-initiated repairs
– An ambiguous, complex and difficult to understand dimension of L2 proficiency and performance.
– Interpreted in two ways:
• Cognitive complexity
• Linguistic complexity
– Complexity has multiple meanings as applied to different aspects of language and communication, e.g., lexical, interactional, propositional, and various types of
– As a performance descriptor, adequacy represents the degree to which a learner’s performance is more or less successful in achieving communicative goals.
– Adequacy can be measured in several ways (Pallotti, 2009):
• In closed tasks with correct/incorrect outcomes, it can be rated straightforwardly as the ratio of correct items achieved.
• In open tasks with no predefined correct answer, adequacy can be judged by means of qualitative ratings using predefined descriptors such as ‘can do’
– Task variables: e.g., rehearsal, strategic planning and within-task planning.
– Learner variables: e.g., current proficiency, attitudes and task orientation.
– Contextual variables: the relationship between the constructs is dynamic and cannot be applied as an absolute across all learning contexts.
• Focuses on competence and / or performance
– Forms of assessment
– Quality and appropriateness of testing instruments
– Authentic assessment
• Forms of assessment
– Formative assessment: from “to form”, i.e., shape the learning process; assessment which is aimed at improving competence. Often carried out as continuous evaluation.
– Summative assessment: establishes the “sum” of what has been learned; usually carried out at the end of a defined learning period, providing final grades etc.. Sometimes connected to high-stakes tests, such as school-leaving exams.
– Continuous assessment: ongoing evaluation,
such as periodical quizzes or tests for which
learners revise the subject matter of a given
series of lessons. A final grade such as a
semester grade may be made up of different
• Forms – cont’d
– Self-assessment: learners evaluate their own performance or products of work; often a set of criteria is used to increase objectivity.
Usually connected to individual-referenced assessment.
– Other-assessment: assessment carried out by teachers or examiners.
– Portfolio approaches: The learner gathers a collection of assignments and products done over a longer period into a file; this portfolio
provides the basis for evaluation.
– Norm-referenced: performance measured against a norm such as the average result of the class or the Year, gives broad indication of relative standing (classroom, school, regional, national norm).
– Criterion-referenced: relates selected and calibrated criteria, relative to certain instructional objectives (e.g., the can-do descriptors of the QLD LOTE Syllabus).
– Individual-referenced: establishes how well the learner is performing relative to his or her own
– Testing is one form of assessment, can be formal or informal, and can be learning experiences or tasks completed by learners.
– Elicitation techniques:
• Questions and answers; True/false; Multiple- choice; Gap-filling and completion; Matching; Dictation; Cloze; Transformation; Rewriting; Translation; Essay; Monologue (Ur, 1996)
– An overview of types of test items, design and administration (Ur, 1996, pp. 37-44)
• Testing – cont’d
– Testing is conducted for specific purposes and can provide information about strengths and weaknesses to learners as well as to teachers:
– Formal language testing today often involves the completion of tasks in which language is used for
communicative purposes. (see IELTS for some
sample tests for academic and general training
• Quality and appropriateness of testing instrument
– Reliability: concerns the assessment instrument’s precision with which it measures what it is intended to measure. Would a test administered to the same respondents a second time yield the same results?
• Test factors such as internal consistency, ratings, etc
• Situational factors, such as the manner in which the instructions are presented
• Individual factors (transient and stable factors)
– Validity: refers to the question as to whether the assessment instrument actually measures what it intends and purports to measure
• Content validity
• Criterion-related validity
• Construct validity
• Systemic validity (backwash effect or consequential validity)
• Face (perceived validity)
• Authentic assessment
– ‘Authentic’ assessment?
• Student centred; what students can do with their language
• Measuring learners’ ability to use language holistically in real- life situations
• Carried out continuously over a period of time
• Involves learners in controlling their learning
• Information for teacher reflection, planning and evaluation of programs
– Authentic assessment:
• Does not intrude on regular classroom activities
• Reflects the curriculum that is being implemented
• Provides information on strengths and weaknesses of
• Provides multiple indicators of learner progress
• Avoids norm, linguistic and cultural biases
• Authentic assessment – cont’d
– Example authentic assessment procedure
• Checklists of student behaviours or products
• Reading logs
• Video/audio-recordings of student interaction
• Self-evaluation questionnaires
• Work samples
• Teacher observation
• Anecdotal records
• Assessment of students’ proficiency
• Also the following features of the program need to be considered:
– Needs analysis
– Evaluation & Assessment
• Needs analysis
– How effective were the needs analysis procedures?
– Did they provide sufficient data to allow for the accurate planning of the program?
– For example, did the data cover both the product and process aspects of the program?
– Was needs analysis on-going and if so how was this effected?
– Does the content relate to the learners’ needs?
– Does it match the learners’ proficiency?
– Was it validated by the learners? i.e., Did the learners feel that the content was going to help them?
– Were any gaps in content evident?
– How were the gaps filled?
– Is the methodology in keeping with the learners’ subjective needs?
– How were differences in learning styles catered for?
– Was the methodology in harmony with the program objectives?
– Was the methodology based on valid views of language acquisition?
– How were the materials related to the course objectives?
– How did the materials enhance the learners’ motivation?
– How authentic were the materials?
– Were the materials acceptable to the students (i.e., validated)?
– Were the materials culturally appropriate?
• Evaluation and Assessment
– Were assessment procedures consistent with the course objectives?
– Was there provision for both formative and summative assessment?
– How regularly did assessment take place?
– Was formative assessment acted upon?
– Was student self-assessment catered for and encouraged?
– Was there provision for student course evaluation during as well as at the end of the course? How was this used?
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