Thornbury (2001:18) defines assessment as “different ways of collecting information about learner’s progress and achievement”. In other words it is the process of gathering, describing or quantifying information about performance (Coombe & Hubley: 2007). Assessment is not only gauging learner’s ability but also about measuring the quality or success of a teaching course, etc. (Richards & Platt: 1992). However, assessment is mistakenly restricted to testing which is, in fact, a component as are interviews, and observations. Assessment can be informal such as based on teachers’ observation of learners in pair/group work or it can be ongoing that can be done anytime during the course. Brown (2004) considers assessment a process rather than a product with the prime objective of ensuring if the course objectives have been met.
2. Basic Concepts
2.1. Informal Assessment
Informal assessment can be prompted or unprompted comments, verbal feedback to students, observing students working in pairs or groups, and so on.
2.2. Formal assessment
Formal assessment is based on activities or procedures which are systematic and provide a measurement of students’ achievement, for example, on a progress test.
2.3. Traditional Assessment
Traditional assessment includes multiple-choice, true-false, and matching items as well as norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests.
2.3.1. Multiple-choice (MCQs)
The examinee receives a question followed by three to five choices to pick at least on as a correct answer. MCQs have a stem which is usually a question or an incomplete statement, alternatives which are the possible answers, and distracters that are incorrect answers.
It is an item on a language test where students are asked to pick up a “true” or “false” response.
These are a type of exercises where students are given words/phrases/clauses in columns either to test lexis or grammar.
2.3.4. Norm-referenced test
These tests measures language ability against a standard or "norm" performance of a group; standardized tests like the TOEFL are norm-referenced tests because they are normed through prior administrations to large numbers of students.
2.3.5. Criterion-referenced tests
These compare students' performance to particular outcomes or expectations set against a certain criteria. The student must achieve this level of performance to pass the test.
2.4. Authentic Assessment
Authentic assessment reflects student learning, achievement, motivation, and attitudes on instructionally relevant classroom activities (O’Malley & Valdez: 1996) such as performance assessment, portfolios, and self-assessment.
3. Assessment Objectives
Assessment is certainly purpose governed activity which is pivotal to all educational settings. However, different contexts may determine different objectives to conform to their specific set of priorities. Generally, assessment aims at diagnosing students’ strengths and needs by providing...