Impact, Washback and Consequences of Large-scale Testing Liying Cheng (Ph.D) Queen’s University email@example.com
Overview • Define the research terms – washback, impact and consequences • Discuss this phenomenon in relation to test validity and social consequences • Argue for conducting further empirical evidence beyond Alderson & Wall, 1993 and Cheng et al 2004 • Illustrate a series of empirical studies using different methodologies Focusing on the influence of testing on students
Impact, washback, and consequences • There is a set of relationships, intended and unintended, positive and negative, between teaching, learning and testing (Alderson & Wall, 1993). • measurement-driven instruction(e.g. Popham, 1987), • test-curriculum alignment (Shepard, 1990), and • consequences (Cizek, 2001) (see Cheng & Curtis, 2004 for a detailed review)
Impact, washback, and consequences • Test Impact - the effects of tests on macro-levels of education and society, and • washback - the effects of language tests on micro-levels of language teaching and learning, i.e. inside the classroom (Bachman & Palmer, 1996; McNamara, 2000; Wall, 1997). • A view of test influence falling between the narrow one of washback and the all-encompassing one of impact (Hamp-Lyons, 1997).
Validity (theoretical models) • Washback - ‘only one form of testing consequences that need to be weighted in evaluating validity’ (Messick, 1996, p.243) promoting the examination of the two threats to test validity, • construct under-representation and • construct-irrelevant variance, to decide the possible consequences that a test can have on teaching and learning. • Bachman (2005) proposes a framework with a set of principles and procedures for • linking test scores and score-based inferences to test use and the consequences of test use
Social consequences to the society (philosophical models) • Critical language testing - political uses and abuses of language tests (Shohamy, 2001) • Fairness framework (Kunnan, 2004) - drew on research in ethics to link validity and consequences - tests as instruments of social policy and control. • An encompassing ethics framework to examine the consequences of testing on language learning at the classroom as well as the educational, social and political levels Hamp-Lyons (1997).
Washback studies • Two areas of washback studies have recently been conducted: • those relating to ‘traditional’ or existing tests which are thought to stifle innovative teaching, and • those relating to cases where a test has been specifically changed in order to encourage innovation in the classroom. • Methods • Survey methods – interviews and questionnaire • Classroom observations Cheng, L., & Watanabe, Y., with Curtis, A. (Eds.) (2004). Washback in language testing: Research contexts and methods. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Alderson & Wall (1993) 15 hypotheses • A test will influence teaching*. • A test will influence learning?. • A test will influence what teachers teach*. • A test will influence how teachers teach*. • A test will influence what learners learn*. • A test will influence how learners learn?. • A test will influence the rate and sequence of teaching?. • A test will influence the rate and sequence of learning?.
Alderson & Wall (1993) 15 hypotheses • A test will influence the degree and depth of teaching?. • A test will influence the degree and depth of learning?. • A test will influence attitudes to the content, method, etc., of teaching andlearning*?. • Tests that have important consequences will have washback*. • Tests that do not have important consequences will have no washback*?. • Tests will have washback on all learners and teachers?. • Tests will have washback effects for some learners and some teachers, but not for others?.
Why studying the impact on students? • … of the many millions of people who will sit down to take (English) tests …, virtually none will have participated in the test’s design, in writing test items, in critiquing the test methods, in setting cut scores or in writing or commenting on the performance descriptions that tie to their all-important score. • Of all stakeholders in testing events, test takers surely have the highest stake of all (Hamp-Lyons, 2000, p. 581).
Focus group (Cognitive lab) The research questions: • How do L1 and L2 test takers’ accounts of the OSSLT differ? • Is it the same for both L1 and L2 groups or does the construct change in important ways in relation to language background? • Do these differences pose a threat to the inferences drawn from the test results? • What other differences are evident in these test takers’ accounts of the OSSLT? Fox, J. & Cheng, L. (in press). Did we take the same test? Differing accounts of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test by first and second language test takers. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 14(1).
Initial Findings • Key differences between English speakers and ESL/ELD students in behaviour and accounts of: • Test knowledgeKnowledge of test genre --formats; space; of what’s expected ; what raters want/will reward. • Test-wisenessStrategic vs. non-strategic responses connects with background in test taking. • The construct or what’s being testedLanguage proficiency or writing? Problem -- prompts that rely on a key word for response: “junk food”; “invention”; how L2 test takers engage with the test – the importance of pictures and other cues vs. reliance on texts. • Affect/investmentEmotional investment – anxiety, sadness, confidence, perceptions of difficulty
Students’ attitude and their CET performance (Zhao & Cheng, 2006) • What are the attitudes of students towardCET-4? • What relationships exist between students’ attitudes and their performanceon the CET-4? • Doessex difference exist in attitudes and their relation to testperformance? • What attitudes differentiate high achievers (who score above 80 percentile) from low achievers(below 20 percentile)? What is the relationship between the two?
Four Attitudinal Factors Factor Item Mean SD 1 Test-taking Anxiety/ 2,3,4,8,10,19,20,23,24 3.87 .72 Lack of Concentration 26,27,29,32,34,35,36,38 2 Test-taking Motivation 5, 7, 9, 22, 37 2.79 .58 3 Belief in CET-4 6,13,17,21,25,39 2.43 .58 4 Test Ease 12,14,30 2.35 .75 N=212
Multiple Regression Cont’d Multiple Regression: females’ attitudes toward CET-4 and their test performance (N=145) Model Factor β t p R2 1 Test-taking Anxiety/Lack of Concentration -.28 -3.44 .001 070 2 Test-taking Anxiety/Lack of Concentration -.26 -.327 .001 .104 Test-taking Motivation -.20 2.55 .012 Multiple Regression: males’ attitudes toward CET-4 and their test performance (N=63) Model Factor β t p R2 1 Belief in CET-4 .46 4.02 <.001 .197
Multiple Regression Cont’d Multiple Regression: High achievers’ attitudes toward CET-4 and their test performance (N=42) Factor β t p R2 2 Test-taking Motivation .58 4.18 <.001 .338 Multiple Regression: Low achievers’ attitudes toward CET-4 and their test performance (N=42) Factor β t p R2 2 Test-taking Motivation .32 2.11 .041 .322
How to establish the relationship between testing and its impact? • Work backward from the test items (test design) • Explore test-takers’ characteristics over testing • learners’ academic background • L1 (native language), Culture, Ethnicity • Gender, Age • Learning Strategies • Learning styles and personality (Field in/dependence) • Test anxiety • Motivation • Longitudinal/cross-group studies • Linking the effects to student test-performance using higher level analysis
Qualities of language tests • Bachman and Palmer’s test usefulness framework (1996) • Reliability + Construct Validity + Authenticity + Interactiveness + Impact + Practicality • Kunnan’s test fairness framework (2004) • Validity + Absence of Bias + Access + Administration + social consequences
Future directions • Washback/impact researchers need to fully analyzethe test under study and understand its test use. • ‘the extensive research on validity and validation has tended to ignore test use, on the one hand, while discussions of test use and consequences have tended to ignore validity, on the other’. It is, then, essential for us to establish the link between test validity and test consequences (Bachman, 2005, p.7). • Therefore, it is imperative that washback/impact researchers work together with other language testing researchers as well as educational policy makers and test agencies to address the issue of validity, in particular, fairness and ethics of our tests.
Reflections • It is clear that “testing is never a neutral process and always has consequences” (Stobart, 2003, p. 140). Tests are a differentiating ritual for students: “for every one who advances there will be some who stay behind” (Wall, 2000, p. 500). This is particular true to the large scale language tests. • Assessment (testing) is central to the teaching and learning process.
references • Alderson, J.C. and Wall, D. (1993). Does washback exist? Applied Linguistics 14,115-129. • Bachman, L. F. (2005). Building and supporting a case for test use. Language Assessment Quarterly, 2(1), 1-34. • Bachman, L. F. and Palmer, A.S. (1996). Language Testing in Practice, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England. • Bailey, K. M. (1996). Working for washback: A review of the washback concept in language testing, Language Testing 13,257-279. • Cheng, L. (2005). Changing language teaching through language testing: A washback study. Studies in Language Testing: Volume 21, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. • Cheng, L. and Curtis, A. (2004). Washback or backwash: A review of the impact of testing on teaching and learning, in L. Cheng and Y. Watanabe with A. Curtis. (eds.), Washback in Language Testing: Research Contexts and Methods, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey. • Cheng, L., & Watanabe, Y., with Curtis, A. (Eds.) (2004). Washback in language testing: Research contexts and methods. Mahwah, New Jersey:Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
references • Cheng, L., Klinger, D., & Zheng, Y. (2007). The challenges of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test for second language students. Language Testing, 24(2). • Cizek, G. J. (2001). More unintended consequences of high-stakes testing. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practrice, 23(3),1-17. • Hamp-Lyons, L. (1997). Washback, impact and validity: ethical concerns. Language Testing, 14(3), 295-303. • Hawkey, R. (2006). Impact Theory and Practice: Studies of the IELTS test and Progetto Lingue 2000. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. • Klinger, D., Cheng, L., & Zheng, Y. (under review). Factors influencing ESL/ELD students’ performance on the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. Educational Assessment. • Kunnan, A. J. (2004). Test fairness. In M. Milanovic, C. Weir, & S. Bolton (Eds.). Europe language testing in a global context: Selected papers from the ALTE conference in Barcelona. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Messick, S. (1996). Validity and washback in language testing, Language Testing 13, 243-256. • Popham, W. J. (1987). The merits of measurement-driven instruction. Phi Delta Kappa, 68, 679-682.
references • Qi, L. (2005). Stakeholders’ conflicting aims undermine the washback function of a high-stakes Test, Language Testing 22, 142-173. • Shepard, L. A. (1990). Inflated test score gains: Is the problem old norms or teaching the test? Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice 9, 15‑22.Shohamy, E. (2001). The Power of Tests: A Critical Perspective on the Uses of Language Tests, Longman, Essex, England. • Song, X., & Cheng, L. (2006). Language learner strategy use and test performance of Chinese learners of English. Language Assessment Quarterly: An International Journal, 3(3), 241-266. • Wall, D. (1997). Impact and washback in language testing. In Clapham, C. & Corson, D. (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Language and Education (p. 291-302). • Zhao, J. & Cheng, L. (2006, May). Exploring the relationship between students’ attitudes toward testing and their test performance. Paper presented at the Canadian Society for Study of Education, Toronto, Ontario. • Zheng, Y., Cheng, L. & Klinger, D. (under review). Do test formats in reading comprehension affect ESL/ELD and non-ESL/ELD students’ test performance differently? TESL Canada.