through the school year
By: Sandra Isobel Hervey
In the decade of the 1990’s a new current of thought
about testing emerged in response to the decreasing
popularity of traditional tests.
This new form of assessment was simple and yet, very
effective. The main idea consisted in organizing and
setting a systematic collection of different materials
created by students.
This collection would be guided by the teacher and would
be arranged in portfolios, journals, observations, self-assessments,
and peer-assessments. These collections would allow
the teacher to record the data about his/her students
in a more efficient way.
Such a system would promote fairness when grading students
and help the teacher keep a balance in the classroom.
Today, here are a few relevant characteristics found in
this kind of assessment, aptly summed up by Brown and
Hudson: (1998, pp. 654-655)
It requires students to perform, create, produce,
or do something.
It is no intrusive in that they extend the day-to-day
It allows students to be assessed on what they
normally do in class everyday.
It focuses on processes as well as products.
It provides information about both the strengths
and weaknesses of students.
It calls upon teachers to perform new instructional
and assessment roles.
and self-assessment are open-ended in time and format,
contextualized to a curriculum, referenced to the
objectives of that curriculum and probably build intrinsic
This way of assessment poses a challenge to the teacher
because they all require considerable time and effort
from the teacher and student.
goal would be to offer a reliable evaluation
of students across a period of time and across
teachers being very careful not to favor one
or a group of students."
Portfolio: Is one of the most
popular forms of assessment within communicative
language teaching. According to Genesee and Upshur
(1996), a portfolio is “a purposeful collection
of student’s work that demonstrates their
efforts, progress, and achievements in given areas”.
Journal: Is an account of one’s
thoughts. Most classrooms have a dialogue journal
which implies an interaction between the reader
(teacher) and the student.
Observations: Whether teachers
are aware or not, they observe their students
in the classroom. Every response, question or
nonverbal behavior is part of this perception.
Self-Assessment: Its theoretical
justification comes form the principles of second
language acquisition: autonomy, as one of the
primary parts; the ability to set one’s
own goals without the presence of an external
prod and to independently monitor yourself.
This will develop intrinsic motivation which
comes from a desire to excel. This is at the
top of the list of successful acquisition of
Although it has the same principles, it is based
on cooperative learning. It involves the students
in their own destiny, encourages autonomy and
increases motivation because they are involved.
The drawbacks would be subjectivity: students
may be either too harsh or too self-flattering,
or may not have the tools to be accurate. Any
of these forms of assessment, enriching your class,
and motivate your students to try to do their
best at all times.
Brown, H.D. (2004) LANGUAGE
ASSESSMENT: Principles and Classroom
Practices. United States: Longman
Burgess, S. and Head, K. (2005) Teach for Exams.