An Expanded View of Testing: The TEVAL Mission Statement
In the Testing and Evaluation Special Interest Group (TEVAL), we believe that testing and evaluation involve more than just tests, item analysis, and statistics. The interests of the TEVAL SIG include all methods for assessing individual performance, group outcomes, and program impact. In considering what "testing and evaluation" means, we endeavor to keep in mind that tests and assessments serve many purposes. They can be used to clarify instructional aims to learners and curriculum designers. They can be used to provide feedback to learners, teachers, and other stakeholders about what was or was not achieved. Simple and informal evaluations can be employed on the fly to ascertain whether an instructional experiment is achieving its aims or not. And of course, tests and other observations can be used to construct reliable measures of constructs of interest for conducting research, or for making ethical and informed decisions that impact our students' lives.
With a broad view of the scope of our mission, we actively seek submissions on a wide range of topics for our programs and publications. Submissions need not be quantitative in approach. Rigorous qualitative analysis of the construction, application, and impact of all types of assessments provides a valuable contribution to the advancement of testing and evaluation. Here is just a short list of ideas and suggestions for research that the TEVAL SIG would like to promote and present in its publications and the annual JALT conferences:
How have your tests or evaluations affected your students' motivation or subsequent performance? Both questionnaires and focused, teacher observation provide insightful data for investigating washback. In classroom evaluation, washback is often more important than measurement. We design assessments in order to focus our learners' attention on what we want them to learn. In spite of this, washback is under-researched.
Have you tried using a test in an innovative way, or for a non-standard purpose? For example, instructing learners to do a computer-based test as many times as they wish until they achieve a satisfactory result, a use that emphasizes review or collaboration rather than measurement?
Have you investigated how different tests or other assessments are related, using either correlational or observational data? For example, are your formative assessments providing a fair indication of what your summative assessments will be? Have you investigated correlations between standardized tests such as TOEIC and particular classroom assessments?
Assessment in practice
We are often required to work with mixed-level classes. Do you have advice or techniques to share for providing fair and informative assessment to multi-level classes? Tips for creating fair "make-up" exams? How about ideas for achieving a balance between the reliability provided by pencil and paper tests and the validity provided by rated performances?
What do your tests or other types of evaluation tell you about the strengths, weaknesses, or affective impact of your program? Is there a role for standardized commercial testing in your program? Are you investigating alternatives to standardized, external tests for program evaluation?
Pencil and paper tests can be frustratingly one-dimensional, even to those of us who are drawn to quantitative approaches. Have you investigated alternatives, such as peer or self assessment, project work, portfolios, or real world out-of-class tasks? If so, how have you gone about evaluating the quality and dependability of those assessments?
TEVAL is a participant in the annual JALT Conference, usually held in November, and the annual PanSIG conference, usually held in May. We welcome participants interested in attending or presenting papers on all of the topics above. We also publish a tri-annual Newsletter, Shiken, which features research, practice, opinion, and instructional articles related to testing, assessment, statistics, and other topics.
To Learn more about the JALT Testing and Evaluation SIG, attend the Annual General Meeting at the annual JALT Conference.