Academic journal article Education

An Investigation of Jordanian EFL Teachers' Procedures of Achievement Test Construction

Academic journal article Education

An Investigation of Jordanian EFL Teachers' Procedures of Achievement Test Construction

Article excerpt


Classroom assessment plays an essential role in the teaching/learning process. Through assessment, the teacher can judge the extent to which he/she has achieved his/her planned instructional objectives. And based upon this judgment, he/she decides whether to continue the instructional process, or simply change teaching or instruction in order to address what has not been achieved. Thus, the evaluation process goes on from one lesson to another, making sure objectives are realized.

Classroom assessment uses a range of tools that contribute to making decisions about student achievement. These tools are in two main categories: traditional testing procedures such as multiple-choice, matching, true-false, short-answer and essay tests; and alternative assessments such as observation, conferences, portfolios, peer and group assessment techniques (Aschbacher, 1994; Davies, 1999; Rose, 1996; Genesee & Upshur, 2004). Despite the existence of both forms of assessment, schools use testing as the major method of evaluation. Jordanian schools, for instance weigh total grades 60% tests and 40% alternative assessments (Jordananian Ministry of Education, 2007).

The strong emphasis on tests might be attributed to teachers believing that tests influence students' learning through fostering student motivation and encouraging them to review what they have learned. Meanwhile, tests provide teachers with good feedback of the positive and negative aspects of their instruction (Madsen, 1983; Heaton, 1988; Shaaban, 2001). However, although tests are very common amongst school teachers, they still have problems and difficulty constructing them properly, according to the appropriate procedures of test construction.

Teachers ought to pay much attention to the way they assess their students' achievement. For example, if they want to use a particular type of test, the assessment should be constructed in a way that guarantees its capability of measuring the extent to which objectives are clearly and practically achieved. Further, the test is expected to represent the content of curriculum, reflecting a good table of specifications, a table of two dimensions, one represents the content, the other represents the thinking processes expected from students (Griswold, 1990; Gronlund, 1998; Vos, 2000). Teachers, on the other hand, should follow the appropriate procedures of test construction that ensure validity and reliability of test: identifying the purpose of the test; good planning and preparation such as determining the intended learning outcomes, selecting a representative sample of items and writing the items in a way that does not have any ambiguity; test administration; good correction; and good analysis of test results (Chittenden, 1991; Kellaghan and Madaus, 1991; Brown, 1998).

Popham (1995) and Daniel and Deber (1998) indicated a number of characteristics with respect to evaluation teachers should have in order to be effective in their classes, amongst which are: knowing how to design and construct a good, educational test; and being able to diagnose the weaknesses and strengths of their students and to follow up their students' learning progress.

It is obvious, then, that preparing a valid, reliable test requires an assessment literate teacher, who is well-trained and well-prepared to consider the procedures of test construction and implement such procedures in his/her tests. Therefore, educational institutions have thought about competences of measurement and evaluation to be included in teacher education programs, both at the preservice and inservice levels; as for the evaluation process to succeed, and for teachers to develop professionally, we should provide and empower them with the essential skills of evaluation (Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, 2002; Daniel and Deber, 1998; Fitt, Rafferty, Presner and Heverly, 1999). Jordan's Ministry of Education, for instance, published a list of standards and levels of performance regarding assessment and evaluation which every teacher should consider in his/her instructional practices. …

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