Advertisement

New Perspectives in Language Assessment: The Interpretivist Revolution

  • Edyta WajdaEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to examine the theoretical underpinnings of the changes that have taken place in language assessment over the last 20 years. The latest developments in the field of language assessment reflect the general shift in language education, which can be characterized in terms of a move from a positivist ideology towards interpretivist approaches, such as constructivism, critical pedagogy and Sociocultural Theory and from the transmission model of teaching to a learner-centred pedagogy. The resultant implications for language assessment are diverse, yet criticisms relating to quantification and ideologically neutral evaluation remain crucial problems to be resolved. The expanded validity framework takes these criticisms into account by viewing language testing as a socially mediated, value-laden activity. Critical Theory, on the other hand, calls for the democratization of language assessment, adding an ethical dimension to the evaluation of test design, administration and score interpretation. The reconceptualisation of validity and promotion of learner autonomy have resulted in the need to replace or complement traditional testing with alternative assessment procedures, embracing a number of approaches and methods, such as self-assessment, portfolio assessment, dynamic assessment or critical language testing. The article provides a general overview of the factors triggering changes in language assessment and describes modifications in assessment procedures which form an attempt to respond to the newly emerging challenges in this field.

Keywords

Language Proficiency Language Testing Dynamic Assessment Traditional Testing Alternative Assessment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bachman, L. F. 2000. Modern language testing at the turn of the century: assuring that what we count counts. Language Testing 17: 1–42.Google Scholar
  2. Birenbaum, M. 2003. New insights into learning and teaching and their implications for assessment. In Optimising new modes of assessment: In search of qualities and standards, eds. M. Segers and F. Dochy, 13–36. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, M. D. 2004. Language assessment: Principles and classroom practice. White Plains, NY: Longman.Google Scholar
  4. Broadfoot, P. M. 2005. Dark alleys and blind bends: testing the language of learning. Language Testing 22: 123–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Broadfoot, P and P. Black. 2004. Redefining assessment? The first ten years of assessment in education. Assessment in Education 11: 7–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Davison, C. and C. Leung. 2009. Current issues in English language teacher-based assessment. TESOL Quarterly 43: 393–415.Google Scholar
  7. Falsgraf, C. 2009. The ecology of assessment. Language Teaching 42: 491–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fosnot, C. T. 1996. Constructivism: A psychological theory of learning. In Constructivism: Theory, perspectives and practice, ed. C. T. Fosnot, 8–33. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fox, J. 2008. Alternative assessment. In Encyclopedia of language and education. Second Edition Volume 7: Language testing and assessment, eds. E. Shohamy and N. H. Hornberger, 97–109. New York: Springer Science.Google Scholar
  10. Gardner, H. 2006. Multiple intelligences: New horizons. Completely revised and updated. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  11. Genesee, F. and J. A. Upshur. 1996. Classroom-based evaluation in second language education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Guba, E. G. and Y. S. Lincoln. 1989. Fourth generation evaluation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Guba, E. G. and Y. S. Lincoln. 1994. Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In Handbook of qualitative research, eds. N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 105–117. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Huerta-Macìas, A. 1995. Alternative assessment: Responses to commonly asked questions. TESOL Journal 5: 8–11.Google Scholar
  15. Jacobs, G. M. and T. S. C. Farrel. 2001. Paradigm shift: Understanding and implementing change in second language education. TESL-EJ 5: 1–15. (http://tesl-ej.org/ej17/a1. Accessed 1 May 2009).Google Scholar
  16. Kincheloe J. L. and P. McLaren. 1994. Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research. In Handbook of qualitative research, eds. N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 138–157. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  17. Lantolf, J. P and M. E. Poehner. 2008a. Introduction to sociocultural theory and the teaching of second languages. In Sociocultural theory and the teaching of second languages, eds. J. P. Lantolf and M. E. Poehner, 1–32. London: Equinox.Google Scholar
  18. Lantolf, J. P and M. E. Poehner. 2008b. Dynamic assessment. In Encyclopedia of language and education. Volume 7. Language Testing and Assessment (second edition), eds. E. Shohamy and N. H. Hornberger, 273–284. New York: Springer Science.Google Scholar
  19. Lidz, C. S. and J. G. Elliott. 2000. Introduction to dynamic assessment. In Dynamic assessment: Prevailing models and applications, eds. C. S. Lidz and J. G. Elliott, 3–13. Amsterdam: JAI An Imprint of Elsevier Science.Google Scholar
  20. Leung, C. and J. Lewkowicz. 2006. Expanding horizons and unresolved conundrums: Language testing and assessment. TESOL Quarterly 40: 211–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lynch, B. K. 2001. Rethinking assessment from a critical perspective. Language Testing 18: 351–372.Google Scholar
  22. Lynch, B. and P. Shaw. 2005. Portfolios, power, and ethics. TESOL Quarterly 39: 263–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lynch, K. B. 1983. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation: Two terms in search of a meaning. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 5: 461–464.Google Scholar
  24. McNamara, T. 1998. Policy and social considerations in language assessment. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 18: 304–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McNamara, T. 2003. Language testing and social policy: The message of the Shibboleth. Measurement. Interdisciplinary Research and Perspectives 1. (http://bearcenter.berkeley.edu/measurement/docs. Accessed 13 January 2007).Google Scholar
  26. Mezirow, J. 1996. Contemporary paradigms of learning. Adult Education Quarterly 46: 158–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moss, P. A. 1996. Enlarging the dialogue in educational measurement: Voices from interpretive research traditions. Educational Researcher 25: 20–28.Google Scholar
  28. Norris, J. 2000. Purposeful language assessment: Selecting the right alternative test. English Teaching Forum 38, (http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol38/no1/p18.htm. Accessed 6 February 2010).Google Scholar
  29. Pennycook, A. 1994. Critical pedagogical approaches to research. TESOL Quarterly 28: 690–692.Google Scholar
  30. Pennycook, A. 2001. Critical applied linguistics: A critical introduction. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Poehner, M. E. 2008. Dynamic assessment: A Vygotskian approach to understanding and promoting L2 development. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  32. Poehner, M. E. 2009. Group dynamic assessment. TESOL Quarterly 43: 471–491.Google Scholar
  33. Schwandt, T. A. 1994. Constructivist, interpretivist approaches to human inquiry. In Handbook of qualitative research, eds. N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 118–137. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  34. Shepard, L. 2002. The role of classroom assessment in teaching and learning. In Handbook of research on teaching. (fourth edition), ed. V. Richards, 1066–1101. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.Google Scholar
  35. Shohamy, E. 1995. Language testing: Matching assessment procedures with language knowledge. In Alternatives in assessment of achievements, learning processes and prior knowledge, eds. M. Birenbaum and F. Dochy, 142–160. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishing.Google Scholar
  36. Shohamy, E. 2001a. Democratic assessment as an alternative. Language Testing 18: 373–391.Google Scholar
  37. Shohamy, E. 2001b. The power of test: A critical perspective on the uses of language tests. London: Pearson.Google Scholar
  38. Williams, M. and R. L. Burden. 1997. Psychology for language teachers: A social constructivist approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BiałystokBiałystokPoland

Personalised recommendations