Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Investigating Administered Essay and Multiple-Choice Tests in the English Department of Islamic Azad University, Hamedan Branch

Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Investigating Administered Essay and Multiple-Choice Tests in the English Department of Islamic Azad University, Hamedan Branch

Article excerpt


This study has attempted to investigate the administered written tests in the language department of Islamic Azad University of Hamedan, Iran from validity, practicality and reliability points of view. To this end two steps were taken. First, examining 112 tests, we knew that the face validity of 50 tests had been threatened, 9 tests lacked content validity, and 2 tests were impractical. Second, randomly the sores of 103 tests (8 multiple-choice and 95essay-type), related to different academic courses, were fed into SPSS software to estimate their reliability statistically using Cronbach's alpha. The results showed that 7 multiple-choice tests had adequate reliability, 39 out of 95 essay-type tests had acceptable reliability, and totally there was a rather acceptable correlation coefficient among the scores of 95 essay-type tests. Finally, some suggestions were offered to improve the future tests.

Keywords: essay-type tests, multiple-choice tests, validity, reliability

1. Introduction

From the time when education began it has always been accompanied by testing. This relationship has been emphasized by many scholars and practitioners in both fields. According to Heaten (1988) as education has evolved new testing techniques have also emerged. On the same line Davies (1990) believes that language testing is central to language teaching.

To answer the questions such as "What type of test should we use?", "How long should the test be?", "How reliable should the test be?" and "Are our test scores valid for this use?" Bachman (1990) considers the specific uses for which the test is intended.

2. The Statement of the Problem

Testing and the future lives of testees are interwoven. Making tests, as measuring instruments of candidates' trait (a type of knowledge, say, vocabulary), is not an easy task and everybody who teaches is not necessarily a good test maker. It is naïve, for instance, to assume that one can develop valid tests of communicative language ability without reference to the construct which one is attempting to measure (Weir, 1990). To be able to make a reliable test, one should be aware of the rules and stages required. As a rule, for example, the test maker should know that the choices in a multiple-choice item should almost be of the same length, level of difficulty, and area of meaning. Writing a test is not a single shot. It should be passed through several stages such as describing the function of the test, planning, preparing items, revising the items, pretesting, and validating the test (Farhady, Jafarpoor, & Birjandi, 1994, 2006; Bachman & Palmer, 1996). The reliability of a test depends on many test method facets such as the facets of test rubric (test organization, time allocation, and instruction) and the facets of expected response (format, nature of language, and restriction on response) (Cohen, 1980; Bachman, 1990).Thus, making a good test is the business of those who have a hand in the field.

3. The Significance of the Study

Language testing and language teaching are so closely interrelated that it is virtually impossible to work in either field without taking the other into account (Heaton, 1988). Language testing provides goals for language teaching, and it monitors, for both teachers and learners, success in reaching those goals (Davies, 1990). It also leads to decision about placing students in the appropriate educational channel, educational quality, materials, and the tests themselves (Baker, 1989). Tests may abolish testees' rights to the extent that they are erroneous. Revealing weaknesses in administered tests, as a result of such a kind of study, and providing the teachers, test makers, and researchers with feedback may help to bring about tests with high quality, facilitate the process of education, and take care of the testees' rights.

4. The Research Objectives

The main objective of the present study has been suggesting the teachers and/or test makers to be quite cautious while making a test and making themselves more knowledgeable about testing by studying the related literature. …

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