Learning-oriented Language Test Preparation Materials: A contradiction in terms?
Anthony Green, University of Bedfordshire
Volume 6, Issue 1, 2017
Abstract: The impact of the use of assessment on teaching and learning is increasingly regarded as a key concern in evaluating assessment use. Realising intended forms of impact relies on more than the design of an assessment: account must also be taken of the ways in which teachers, learners and others understand the demands of the assessment and incorporate these into their practice. The measures that testing agencies take to present and explicate their tests to teachers and other stakeholders therefore play an important role in promoting intended impact and mitigating unintended, negative impact. Materials that support teachers in preparing learners to take tests (such as descriptions of the test, preparation materials and teacher training resources) play an important role in communicating the test providers’ intentions. In this study, these support materials are analysed. The selected materials, provided to teachers by Cambridge English Language Assessment, go with the Speaking component of a major international test of general English proficiency: Cambridge English: First. The study addresses how these materials might embody or reflect learning-oriented assessment principles of task authenticity, learner engagement and feedback within a coherent systemic theory of action, reconciling formative and summative assessment functions to the benefit of learning.
Keywords: Impact; test preparation; alignment; washback