Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reader Question about Testing

These ones from Caroline:

"Are your exams strictly oral, or do you also administer a written component? Is the final designed in a group by all the instructors together, or does each instructor do his/her own thing? Do you do one on one interviews, or do you have them come up in groups of two or more and do situation cards with roleplaying? Do you have the resources to videotape the interviews? What about audio recording resources?"

Lots of questions!  I will do my best to answer them.  At my university, the instructors are left up to their own devices as to how to test the students.  The only requirement is that there is some sort of "oral component," since it's a conversational English class.  Some of my colleagues interpret this strictly to mean 1-1 conversation with the teacher, while other are a bit looser and do things like presentations or role-play cards.

I do different things every semester with regard to written evaluation, since I like experimenting and keeping it interesting for myself.  I have done written tests and quizzes in the past, but I'm not doing it this semester.  20% of their final grade is online homework (as mandated by my uni), which is all of the "written" variety, mostly vocab, grammar and reading.

I have done 1-1 interviews in the past, but I find it way too tedious and stressful so I prefer not to do it this way anymore.  I have some classes with up to 30 students, so 1.5 hours is just not enough time to do it fairly and accurately.  I've never tried the situation card thing before.  I'm not so sure how to set it up, to be honest.  I just can't make the logistics of it all work out in my head.  Perhaps the readers could give me some advice?

In recent semesters, I've started doing partner testing, with random partners. This semester so far, we've studied 5 units.  I gave them a list of questions from each of the units.  About 4 questions/unit. So around 20 questions in total.  Then, I bring them into my office in groups of 6.  I pick 2 of the people to ask each other questions, one from each unit.  I just listen and evaluate.  They can't use a paper and have to memorize their questions.  I give them a grid by which I evaluate. 

I could probably get a Video Camera, or audio record, except I don't.  I test 150-200 students each semester, so it would be incredibly time-consuming to go back and re-evaluate each student.  Students generally seem to be happy with their grades and feel it's fair.

1 comment:

MsCaroline said...

Hi, Jackie: thought I had responded to this last night and can't remember if I didn't or if possibly my comment is awaiting moderation. In any case, the situation cards are probably the same as what you call role-playing cards; you give them a 'situation' and a role to play and have them initiate a conversational exchange. I'll check back to see if I actually sent that comment later on - I think I had more detail in there, but it sounds like just a different name for a similar thing. There are lots of ways to do that final oral assessment, but I don't think anyone has come up with a way to make it as quick and easy as, say, grading a math test!