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Getting there


Thursday, December 15, 2005

i fell asleep on the train and went past my usual stop, so I changed to a different train from usual and arrived. I need a coffee, I thought, and indulged in a latte while reading Bachman's (1990) Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing Oxford University Press.

I really liked the idea (p.54, 55) that we have to think about the purpose of tests, and Bachman has two major ones mentiond, tests as sources of information for making curriculum decisions, and indicators of abilities of interest in research. BUT I thought (having made my test only yesterday!) that a further view of the purpose of testing would be to review the course, explore a bit more of the ideas and celebrate achievement, or is that already included in what Bachman meant?

Anyway, on p.55 Bachman then says we have to think about the assumptions which allow us to use tests as a source of evaluation info, "First, we must assume that information regarding educational outcomes is essential to effective formal education...second...it is possilbe to imporve learning and teaching through appropriate changes in the program, based on feedback...Third, ...that the educational outcomes of the given program are measurable' (1990:55)

Those are some mighty big assumptions! Radical me gloating as I wonder if i dare beg to differ??And Bachman on the same page says that "It should be pointed out that ...the description and evaluation of the processes that are part of an educational program are equally important (Long 1984). However, since these processes are arguably even more complex than the outcomes, or 'products' of educational programs, they are more commonly described and evaluated on the basis of qualitative information.'
Justification for blogging as the operationalized course process evaluation methodology??!!

Another great quote that really hit me was overleaf: "In educational programs the decisions made are generally about people, and have some effect on their lives. It is therefore essential that the information upon which we base these decisions be as reliable and as valid as possible. Very few of us, for example, would consider the opinioins of our students' friends and relatives to be reliable information for evaluating their classroom performance." (1990:p.56)
...And here am I with my rubric marking, placing my judgement on a par with that of my students, who are judging the performance of friends!

So here are today's superb Thursday presentation results, first the average grade which the students get (five students grading, one from each group, and me, divided by six) and me:

Av:54 Me: 57 (This group had excellent delivery.)
Av: 51 Me: 48.5 (This group worked hard to make the bird flu topic relevant)
Av: 51 Me 47.5 ( I note this was the first presentation of the day, had great visuals)
Av: 55 Me: 50.5 (This group went last, excellent graphs)
Av: 54.8 Me 55.5 (This group wore suits, and did some excellent analysis of economic repercussions of bird flu, but also had realllll humor, handing out flyers for Kentucky Fried!)
Av: 53.8 Me: 51 (This group had a fantastic own opinion ending section to their talk, which left a really strong impression)

So there we are, is Bachman right? I would think not, the overall average is 53.2 for the class, and I agree, all presentations were A grade work! In fact I am running the paper vocabulary test in an attempt to justify not giving "A"s to everyone...kinda sad, but the quality of summer assignments and individual work show up individual strengths and weaknesses...is the course teaching to teach, in which case they are all "A"s, I was beaming the way everyone's presentations are getting better and better....Or is it teaching to test, mark down, differentiate, in which case various performances can be used to validate marking down...sigh! Yeah, the quality of the summer assignment and this last vocabulary test is what it boils down to for me to justify the A B C bit...