A Comparative Study of Korean University Students before and after a Criterion Referenced Test

| September 28, 2010
A Comparative Study of Korean University Students before and after a Criterion Referenced Test
Terry Joseph Frain
University of Southern Queensland, Australia
The study aims to determine the perceptions of first year university students to criterion referenced testing. The students have been tested using norm referenced testing for most of their English language education and this has culminated in The College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT).The poor communication skills of the students has prompted the researcher to question why CLT methodology is not complemented by a communicative test that reflects real life situations practiced in the classroom. The attitudes and perceptions of the students may support a different method of testing that complements a communicative approach to learning. It seems that backwash from the CSAT, which emphasizes only reading and listening, is negatively affecting communicative competence (Flattery, 2007). The experimental approach will be action research as this is a single case study of students and their attitudes and perceptions about language testing. It seeks to understand the effect that backwash from a test has on them. The students were tested using a paired criterion referenced test during their first semester at university. They are surveyed twice, before and after the criterion referenced test, to determine their opinions about this new testing method and norm referenced testing. The survey items reflected the qualities of a good language test, namely, interactiveness, practicality, reliability, validity, practicality, and impact. The results seem to indicate that the students question the reliability of norm referenced testing while criterion referenced testing created positive backwash. The students perceive the use of real world tasks as being more relevant in assessing their abilities in English compared to decontextualized multiple choice exams. They also perceive that they are no longer being compared with each other but in their ability to perform a task, which seemed to create a positive attitude toward language learning.

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Category: Thesis