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Beyond Tests: Alternatives in Assessment

This chapter tries to discuss alternative in assessment and the problems found in alternative in assessments. Performance Based Assessment Performance based assessment implies productive, observable skills, such as speaking and writing of content valid tasks.
According to O’malley and Valdez Pierce (1996), the characteristics of performance assessment are 1) students make a constructed response, 2) They engage in higher order thinking, with open-ended tasks, 3) tasks are meaningful, engaging and authentic, 4) tasks call for the integration of language skills, 5) both process and product are assessed, 6) depth of a student’s mastery is emphasized over breadth. Portfolios One of the most popular alternatives in assessment, especially within a framework of communicative language teaching, is portfolio development.

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Portfolios include materials such as: a. Essays and compositions in draft and final forms, b. Reports, project outlines, c. Poetry and creative prose, d. Artwork, photos, newspaper or magazine clippings, e. Audio and/or video recordings of presentations, demonstrations, etc, f. Journals, diaries, and other personal reflection, g. Test, test scores, and written homework exercises, h. Notes on lecturer, i. Self-and peer- assessments-comments, and checklists. Journals A journal is a log or account of one’s thoughts, feelings, reactions, assessment, ideas, or progress toward goals, usually written with little attention to structure, form, or correctness.
Categories or purposes in journal writing, such as the following: a. Language learning logs, b. Grammar journals, c. Responses to readings, d. Strategies based learning logs, e. Self-assessment reflections, f. Diaries of attitudes, feelings, and other affective factors, g. Acculturation logs. Conferences Conferences are not limited to drafts of written work including portfolios and journals. Conferences must assume that the teacher plays the role of a facilitator and guide, not of an administrator, of a formal assessment. Conferences are by nature formative, not summative and their primary purpose is to offer positive washback.
Interviews This term is intended to denote a context in which a teacher interviews a student for a designated assessment purpose. Interview may have one or more of several possible goals in which the teacher:
1. Assesses the student’s oral production, 2. Ascertains a students need before designing a course of curriculum, 3. Seeks to discover a students’ learning style and preferences, 4. Asks a student to assess his or her own performance, 5. Requests an evaluation of a course.
All teachers, whether they are aware of it or not, observe their students in the classroom almost constantly. One of the objectives of such observation is to assess students without their awareness (and possible consequent anxiety) of the observation so that the naturalness of their linguistic performance can be maximized. 7. Self – and Peer Assessments Most successful learners extend the learning process well beyond the classroom and the presence of a teacher or tutor, autonomously mastering the art of self-assessment. Where peers are available to render assessment, the advantage of such additional input is obvious. According to Brown (2004), there are five categories of self and peer assessment:
1.Assessment of performance, in this category, a student typically monitors him or herself in either oral or written production and renders some kind of evaluation of performance.
2. Indirect assessment of competence, indirect assessment targets larger slices of time with a view to rendering an evaluation of general ability as opposed to one to one specific, relatively time constrained performance.
3. Metacognitive assessment for setting goals, some kind evaluation are more strategic in nature, with the purpose not just of viewing past performance or competence but of setting goals and maintaining an eye on the process of their pursuit.
4. Socioaffective assessment, yet another type of self and peer assessment comes in the form of methods of examining affective factors in learning. Such assessment is quite different from looking at and planning linguistic aspects of acquisition.
5. Student generated tests, a final type of assessment that is not usually classified strictly as self or peer assessment is the technique of engaging students in the process of constructing tests themselves. Guidelines for self-and peer assessment
Self-and peer assessment are among the best possible formative types of assessment and possibly the most rewarding, but they must be carefully designed and administered for them to reach their potential. Four guidelines will help teachers bring this intrinsically motivating task into the classroom successfully.

Tell students the purpose of assessment
Define the task clearly
Encourage impartial evaluation of performance or ability
Ensure beneficial washback through follow up tasks

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