A Word on Assessment

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by Jose Luis Garcia, Keiser University Language Institute

When evaluating students’ performance in the language classroom, teachers cannot just rely on testing as the primary source of progress. A student evaluation does not occur in isolation or after grading written assignments and or quizzes. Indeed, students’ evaluations need to demonstrate their progress. In fact, from our teaching practice, we learn that testing, assessment, evaluation, and a teacher’s daily lesson observations are complementing factors.  Hence, my proposal relies on following an eclectic approach and including more than one form of assessment during any given evaluation process.

Here is my suggested approach:

To start a teaching session, consider running a diagnostic assessment or test. Find out what knowledge students bring into the classroom and identify areas of growth and learning that need reviewing and improvement. Build on formative assessment behaviors and with the obtained data, establish achievable learning goals to empower and engage students in progress.

Second, I suggest including formal and informal assessment elements. The former includes forms of summative and alternative assessment. Instructors may consider using short quizzes, class projects, and collaborative assignments. From each aspect, they should be able to obtain relevant and concrete information of the students’ progress and challenges.  This process involves students’ completing traditional forms of assessment such as homework, quizzes, and tests. However, in these forms, instructors should make a considerable effort in providing life-like issues that integrate the content and its use in meaningful tasks, for example, using integrative assessment strategies like information transfer items.

One last suggestion is including alternative assessment forms such as the use of checklists, rubrics, self-evaluation, and portfolios. Though these forms are less conventional, they provide vivid samples of a students’ growth throughout a session and how well they can  apply the class content.

An eclectic approach to assessment will provide instructors with more effective more tools to assess learners. It is reliable, valid, and tailored to the learners’ and course needs. It is also systematic for it screens performance and competence at a fair level.

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