While enjoying popularity, assessment is still regarded as a misunderstood term in current educational practice (Bachman 1990; Brown 2004). With a paradigm shift in language assessment from psychometrics to educational assessment, from a testing culture to an assessment culture (Gipps 1994), the field has recently moved into a new direction. In Assessment in the Language Classroom: Teachers Supporting Student Learning, Liying Cheng and Janna Fox highlight the importance of integrating teaching and assessment to support student learning and introduce the concept of alignment as a guiding principle to achieve high-quality assessment. Alignment has been defined as ‘the degree of agreement among curriculum, instruction, standards and assessments’ (p. 11). Unlike any other concept in language assessment, alignment is an overriding concept that encompasses these four basic elements (curriculum, instruction, standards, and assessment) and considers the way they work together and have an influence on one another. Opening the book with an introductory section, the authors offer their own personal reflections on assessment and testing practices in language classroom and then a brief overview and background to the field of language testing and assessment is provided. After offering a definition of assessment in general, the authors explain the four fundamental aspects of classroom assessment (events, tools, processes, and decisions) in Chapter 1. Purposes of assessment, namely, instructional, student-centered, and administrative, are then described. Moreover, vital features of high-quality assessment such as alignment, validity, reliability, fairness, washback, consequences, practicality, and efficiency are elaborated on. The terms assessment for learning, assessment of learning, and assessment as learning are also discussed. Finally, classical humanism, progressivism, reconstructionism, and post-modernism as four prominent educational philosophies in language teaching are explored, and the way teachers’ choices in the classroom can be influenced by their own philosophy of assessment is examined. Determining what to teach and to assess and how to integrate assessment in the classroom with the learning objectives and outcomes for language learners are addressed in Chapter 2. First, the way learning goals or outcomes are to be integrated with assessment tasks and classroom activities is investigated. Second, learning and learning outcomes are defined and the way learning outcomes can be related to classroom assessment tasks is explained. Third, the idea of a backward design, working backward from the intended learning outcomes to the assessment tasks and instructional activities (p. 41), is also introduced. Fourth, assessment design in a course is looked upon from both horizontal and vertical perspectives. Various contexts such as benchmarks and standards, curricular guidelines, external tests, textbooks, or needs analysis for alignment of assessment tasks and classroom activities with intended learning outcomes are explored as well. Eventually, a template for syllabus design is proposed. Formative assessment and some key differences between large-scale testing and classroom assessment practices are examined in Chapter 3. Furthermore, the way classroom assessment plans can be created by teachers and how context impacts their assessment planning are illustrated. The chapter ends with introducing and exemplifying a number of assessment tools, methods, and procedures including alternative methods, with a closer examination of portfolio assessment issues such as what it entails, the recognition of the inherent rewards and challenges of portfolio assessment, and the way it is to be planned. Summative assessment and the ways of developing high-quality test in a stepwise fashion from test specifications to test administration are discussed in Chapter 4. At first, some key terms and concepts such as construct, criterion and norm-referenced assessment, and Target Language Use domain are defined. Then, the crucial role test specifications play in test development is emphasized. Moreover, an overview and a thorough sketch of test development process including mandate, purpose, constructs, tables of specifications, item and task writing, and scoring and rating is presented and displayed. Next, analytic rating scales are compared and contrasted with the holistic ones and the concepts of inter-rater reliability and rater training are also briefly touched upon. Finally, test administration including piloting and collecting evidence and responses from test takers and test analysis including item difficulty and item discrimination are described. A discussion of the assessment tools that help teachers get to know their students is presented in Chapter 5. The core assumption is that a better understanding of students’ language learning experiences can greatly enhance learning efficiency and teaching productivity. Finally, three main assessment strategies that help teachers to get to know their students (assessment for placement purposes, needs analysis, and diagnostic assessment) are explained and exemplified. In the penultimate chapter, the merits of the learner–teacher rapport and the significance of continual feedback to achieve high-quality learning and teaching are discussed. Next, how learners are to be provided with feedback and the amount and type of feedback that best support the learning process are discussed. The assessment role is discussed within the theoretical framework of motivational theories as put forward by Dörnyei (2001). Ryan and Deci’s (2000) categorization and classification of motivation into the following four types are also explored: (1) intrinsic motivation, (2) self-determined extrinsic motivation, (3) non–self-determined extrinsic motivation, and (4) amotivation. The chapter concludes with exploring the intricate interaction between learners’ motivation to learn and teachers’ application of assessment strategies. Chapter 7 mainly focuses on the fourth fundamental aspect of classroom assessment activities: assessment decision. Salient issues in grading and test preparation are first addressed. The likely perplexity emanating from the conflicting roles of teachers as coaches (formative assessment) and teachers as judges (summative assessment) is then examined. The concept of grading is introduced and defined as ‘the process of summing up student achievement using a numerical or ordinal scale’ (p. 191). The impact of large-scale testing, test preparation, and its pedagogical implications are also discussed. To conclude, capitalizing on learners’ testing experiences is suggested as an effective means to inform teaching and assessment practices. Throughout the volume, some key concepts of language testing and assessment are well-illustrated and presented within language classroom contexts. However, the formulation of assessment for learning, assessment of learning, and assessment as learning is nothing new to the field, as claimed by the authors in the introduction section. Such concepts have already been introduced by Icy Lee in her book entitled, Classroom Writing Assessment and Feedback in L2 School Contexts. The volume enjoys a number of strengths both in terms of content coverage and organization. The authors have mainly used non-technical terms in writing the book without undermining the approachability of its language. This has in turn helped them to reach for a wider audience. Though the book has been specifically targeted toward classroom language teachers, researchers (including master’s and PhD students) and testing professionals can greatly benefit from the issues raised in it. The schema-activating questions raised at the beginning of each chapter are suitable warm-up activities that will allow readers to ponder upon their own personal experiences before moving on to the text itself. Another advantage of the book is the inclusion of practical examples, teacher-friendly activities, tables, and even a questionnaire that will help language teachers apply assessment in their classrooms more effectively. Moreover, the current volume goes beyond what classroom assessment had previously accomplished: test design and test analysis, features that are mostly characteristic of large-scale testing. The authors have successfully mitigated the divide from theory to practice by incorporating samples of some commonly used classroom assessment tools and test formats in the appendix. Suggested readings incorporated at the end of each chapter are invaluable sources to be further investigated by more interested readers as well. Last but not necessarily the least, the glossary put at the end of the volume best serves as a good reference point for the envisaged readers to easily review the recurring themes of the book. However, the book suffers from a few shortcomings and limitations in terms of content coverage as well. First, issues like on-going feedback, student motivation, contextualization, and tapping on learners’ own experiences discussed throughout the volume are not just exclusive to language testing and assessment and can be applicable to other dimensions and elements of language classrooms such as teaching methods and learner variables (learning styles, affective factors, and age). Moreover, when it comes to practice, maximizing learners’ motivation through assessment tools and acting on their constant feedback by L2 teachers in the classroom are easier said than done. It still remains a challenging and daunting task that is hard to be actualized. Finally, the gap between theory and practice is not well-bridged as claimed by the authors because several elusive concepts like alignment, motivation, feedback, and the backward design need further operationalization and elaboration within classroom contexts. Despite these limitations, the volume greatly contributes to the field of language assessment, specifically in classroom contexts. In sum, it also calls for closer attention to learners’ experiences, responses, motivation, and reflections through assessment to improve the learning and teaching quality. Reza Bagheri Nevisi is an assistant professor of applied linguistics at University of Qom, Iran. His research interests include task-based language teaching, language assessment, and pragmatics in general, pedagogic task types, task complexity, speech acts, and speaking assessment in particular. Rasoul Mohammad Hosseinpur is an assistant professor of TEFL at University of Qom, Iran. He holds a PhD in TEFL. He has published several articles in ELT-related journals. His research areas include second-language writing pedagogy, interlanguage pragmatics, and L1-based instruction. References Bachman L. 1990 . Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing . Oxford University Press . Brown H. D. 2004 . Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices . Longman . Dörnyei Z. 2001 . ‘New themes and approaches in second language motivation research ,’ Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 21 : 43 – 59 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Gipps V. C. 1994 . Beyond Testing . Farmer Press . Ryan R. M. , Deci E. L. 2000 . ‘Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and wellbeing ,’ American Psychologist 55 : 68 – 78 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed © Oxford University Press 2018 This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Applied Linguistics – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 29, 2018
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