What are tests for?
Some preliminary definitions:
A test may be defined as an activity whose main purpose is to convey (usually to the tester) how well the testee knows or can dosomething. This is in contrast to practice, whose main purpose is sheer learning. Learning may, of course, result from a test, just as feedback on knowledge may be one of the spin-offs of a practiceactivity: the distinction is in the main goal.
It is often conventionally assumed that tests are mostly used for assessment: the test gives a score, which is assumed to define the level of knowledge ofthe testee. This may be in order to decide whether he or she is suitable for a certain job or admission to an institution, has passed a course, can enter a certain class. But in fact testing andassessment overlap only partially: there are other ways of assessing students (an overview of assignments over a long period, for example; or the teacher’s opinion, or self evaluation) and there arecertainly other reasons for testing (see below, Box 3.1). This unit concentrates on testing as a teaching act.
Reasons for testing
Stage 1- Inquiry;
Think about and write down the main reasons why you(would) test in the language classroom. Ask one or two experienced teachers what their main reasons are; and then ask some learners if they think being tested is helpful or important, and if so why.Note down the answers.
Stage 2 – Critical Reflection:
BOX 3.1: REASONS FOR TESTING
Tests may be used as a means to:
1-give teacher information about where the students are atthe moment, to help decide what to do next;
2-give the students’ information about what they know, so that they also have an awareness of what they need to learn or review;
3-assess for some purposeexternal to current teaching (a final grade for the course);
4-motivate students to learn or review specific material;
5-get a noisy class to keep quiet and concentrate;
6-provide a clear...