Purpose – Having a certain degree of assessment literacy is crucial for today's language teachers. The main aim of this paper is to provide that knowledge as it pertains to the writing skill. More specifically, the purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the main practical issues that teachers often face when evaluating the written work of their students. It will consider issues and solutions in five major areas: test design; test administration; ways to assess writing; feedback to students; and the effects on pedagogy. Design/methodology/approach – The author took a very practical and principled approach to the complete process of assessing the written work of our students in a foreign or second language. Findings – The cyclical relationship between teaching and assessment can be made entirely positive provided that the assessment is based on sound principles and procedures. Both teaching and assessment should relate to the learners' goals and very frequently to institutional goals. Practical implications – Good teachers spend a lot of time ensuring that their writing assessment practices are valid and reliable. The author deals with the fundamental issues that underlie good test design in a very practical and understandable way and later suggests practical steps to ensure smooth and reliable test administration before dealing with ways to assess a range of different writing tasks. Then, the crucial issue of how best to provide useful developmental feedback to students is considered. She concludes by discussing how best testing practice should seek to accommodate the requirements of test takers. Originality/value – This topic is significant as assessing foreign/second language writing skills is one of the most problematic areas in language testing. It is made even more important because good writing ability is very much sought after by higher education institutions and employers.
Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 24, 2010
Keywords: Languages; Literacy; Assessment; Language teaching
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