A web site for the developing language teacher

Arzu - a detailed analysis
of a language learner
by Kendall Peet
- 4

Learner Assessment

Principles of learner assessment (17)

The purpose of any form of assessment or evaluation should be to assist the learner in learning, which is to say that assessment should be formative. Assessment should be carried out on a regular basis as an integral part of the learning process to provide positive feedback, to motivate, and to help direct the learning process. Assessment should therefore highlight what the learner knows, as well as what the learner does not know, and be ongoing(18).

Accordingly to Harris and McCann, there are three forms of assessment available to a teacher to help effectively diagnose learner needs:(19)

  • formal assessment: assessment carried out under test conditions;

  • informal assessment: carried out by the teacher in normal classroom conditions;

  • self-assessment: carried out by the learner.

Traditionally, assessment has tended to be formal.(20) More recently, however, informal assessment and self-assessment have come to play an increasingly important role in the process of learner development.

Validity, Practicality, Accountability, and Reliability

When selecting a method of assessment it is helpful to consider the following criteria:

  • Validity: the method of assessment effectively assesses what the teacher intends to assess;

  • Practicality: the method of assessment is not too time-consuming, in terms of classroom time, and does not detract overly from teaching or preparation time;

  • Accountability: the method chosen must provide a clear indication of the learner’s level or progress and possess an easily explainable rationale.

  • Reliability: the method is consistent in the results produced.

To meet the above criteria, teachers will need to be clear about their objectives and objective in their approach, taking into account the time and resources available.

17. I use the term assessment in a positive sense and try to reframe from using the term test, due to the negative connotations associated with the term.
18. Harris, M, & McCann, P. (1994). Recommend a that teachers use a negotiated syllabus approach to course design.
19. Harris, M, & McCann, P. (1994). p.2
20. Harris, M, & McCann, P. (1994). p. 2

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