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E-Testing


Tsumizumi Masashi
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I use all sorts of on-line systems to help students understand what we're doing on a course. However, I don't rely on 'pure' on-line tests in the sense you're probably meaning (i.e. with both questions and answers on-line, and with some kind of automatic reporting of marks).

Unless the exercise is designed for student self-help, there's always a trained teacher involved in making the assessments. My main problem with on-line tests in the form that they usually exist nowadays is that the information you get from them is either banal or wrong … and they encourage students to be answer-oriented, when I think that learning is process-oriented. Educational administrators usually love them because they generate numerical information … but that kind of information is usually pedagogical nonsense.

To give you one example, in Sweden, when you learn English, you'll come across a 'some and any' question in most on-line grammar tests. To test them, I always look for the question that says something like:

Would you like *** tea?

and the one which says:

I don't like *** of them.

(*** = either 'some' or 'any').

The pre-programmed answer is 'any for both of these … but any native speaker can tell you that either is equally acceptable - provided you specify the context. In fact, 'would you like some tea?' is actually much more likely to heard by a Swedish learner of English.

I often hear an argument which says "well, OK, they're flawed, but aren't they something to use whilst we wait for something better to be produced?". I'd say, no. It's better to put your efforts into more meaningful activities … but these almost always involve trained and experienced teachers, people who are rarely involved in the production of on-line tests.

You're welcome to take a look at my Toolbox page, where I've collected together some of the on-line 'tests' I use with my students:

http://www.humsam.hik.se/distans/existstud/toolbox.htm

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Hello,

I'm wondering if any of you use online tests at work. Do you prefer using paper/pencil to test students instead?

Did you try to use any online testing systems, like TeamTesting(www.teamtesting.com) or so? What are the pros and cons when using such systems? Are they helpful for you?

Regards,

Tsumisumi.

I am no longer in the classroom so I am not involved in using online tests. However, Ben Walsh gave a great presentation on this subject in Stockholm and will be posting his seminar on the forum later this week.

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I don't think there is much of a role for online testing in the Humanities subjects I teach. Other subjects where there is a far greater emphasis on factual recall will probably feel differently. Humanities teachers tend to be far more interested in students processing and using information rather than regurgitating it. Some of the games and quizzes templates around on the internet are good for starters and plenaries but should be used sparingly and in the context of something much more meaningful. Arguably online quizzes as assessment tools online tests tell us very little and the students even less

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I agree with David Richardson. As a former language teacher, I have used many forms of computerised tests. Some aspects of language can be tested easily by computer as there is often a right or wrong answer - lots of scope for this in the language that I taught (German) - but then there are many cases, as cited by David, where different answers may be right or wrong depending on the context.

Recalling vocab is essential in language learning. Vocab can be tested fairly easily: v. the work carried out by Paul Meara and Jim Milton at the University of Wales Swansea. But much of what we test as language teachers requires a good human ear or eye, e.g. in assessing conversational skills and essay writing. There is a module on Computer Aided Assessment at the ICT for Language Teachers website, which discusses the subject in detail and includes a chart on what can and cannot be tested by computer:

http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_mod4-1.htm

Computerised testing of knowledge of foreign languages is OK as a "quick 'n' dirty" solution in placement testing of large numbers of students, but not reliable enough to be used in more serious assessment situations. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be think otherwise, and silly stories abound of 100% online testing. See this Education Guardian article headed "First subjects get green light for online GCSE assessment":

http://education.guardian.co.uk/gcses/stor...1891858,00.html

(10 October 2006))

This is typical journalistic hype, suggesting once again that there is an easy way out, i.e. don’t employ human beings, use computers. And OCR should know better too, but I guess they are touting for business and this is the reason why they fed this hype to the press. On closer examination they don't propose doing much more than offering multiple-choice testing of selected areas of knowledge.

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I'm wondering if any of you use online tests at work. Do you prefer using paper/pencil to test students instead?

Did you try to use any online testing systems, like TeamTesting(www.teamtesting.com) or so? What are the pros and cons when using such systems? Are they helpful for you?

Tsumisumi.

I highly recommend that you look at Ben Walsh's seminar, Beyond Multiple Choice.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=8508

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