09 SES 11 A, Assessing Linguistic Competencies: Phonological Ability, Spelling and Writing
This research is grounded in the theoretical framework of Criterion-Referenced Assessment and its use as a tool to identify the strengths and weaknesses of student achievement in writing.
In assessing students ability in writing two main methodologies have been traditionally used;
- a ‘holistic approach’ which provides an overall score that effectively ranks students on the overall quality of the work presented. The score itself does not provide information regarding the skills of writing that have been demonstrated in the assessment and additional diagnostic information is often provided by supplementary comments and annotations on the student work; and
- a criterion-referenced approach which attempts to ‘atomise’ the components of writing that are necessary to be controlled in order to produce a quality piece of communication in a written form. Typically these components will include textual features including “engagement of audience”, “cohesion”, narrative (genre) control, and syntax; and structural features like grammar and punctuation, paragraphing, vocabulary and spelling.
The codes that are awarded for each component represent the achievement observed in the student work for each of these components compared to a pre-determined rubric that hierarchically orders the skills observed in each criterion. These codes are typically treated as scores that are accumulated to provide an overall assessment of the student work.
This research is conducted in a region that supports a criterion-referenced approach to writing as a diagnostic tool for teachers and students. It aims to provide a standardised referenced system that informs stakeholders of the current level of achievement and skills demonstrated in a piece of writing and by definition with reference to the rubric what other skills still need to be acquired to improve individual writing skills.
In this particular large scale assessment program, students are required to respond to two writing prompts in each of their native language (Arabic) and a foreign language (English) – a total of four pieces of writing.
In each writing assessment the first task is typically a scaffolded stimulus that provides multiple related activities in a sequenced pictorial form (e.g. images depicting a common fable like the hare and the tortoise) and request students to describe the activity in each graphic and how they interact to develop characters and a cohesive plot, conclusion and moral of the fable.
The second task is typically a more general and less structured graphic or writtern stimulus that provides students with the opportunity to develop a response from a number of points of view around some central theme or topic (e.g. ship approaching an idyllic shoreline). This stimulus is designed to encourage students to develop a piece of writing that is more creative and using a wider range of writing skills to develop the piece. Different genre may be encountered.
The research aims to investigate the efficacy of:
- the different prompts
- the different grades
- and in different languages.
The aim of this research is to determine if the demand load on students in requiring two responses is rewarded by more precise and useful information regarding student ability in writing, and to determine if these strategies are equally as efficient in both language medium.
1. Cronbach, L. J. (1970). Essentials of psychological testing (3rd ed.). New York: Harper & Row. 2. Glaser, R. (1963). "Instructional technology and the measurement of learning outcomes". American Psychologist 18 (8): 519–522. 3. Haertel, E. (1985). "Construct validity and criterion-referenced testing". Review of Educational Research 55 (1): 23–46. 4. Weiss, D.J.; Davison, M.L. (1981). "Test Theory and Methods". Annual Review of Psychology 32: 1. 5. Green, S. (2002). Criterion referenced Assessment as a Guide to Learning – The Importance of Progression and Reliability. A paper presented at the Association for the Study of Evaluation in Education in Southern Africa International Conference, 10 July – 12 July 2002 6. Masters, G.N. (1988). The Analysis of Partial Credit. Applied Measurement in Education, 1(4), 279-297. Copyright 1988, Laurence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
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