In assessment skills.Despite the growing number of washback

In a similar study, Muñoz and Álvarez (2010) investigated the washback of a classroom-based oral assessment system, developed in 2001 with the purpose of improving English teaching and learning at a language center of a private university in Colombia. Data collected through student and teacher surveys, classroom observations as well as external evaluations of students’ speaking performances over the course of 15 months indicated positive impact of the classroom assessment on different aspects of teaching and learning. The authors concluded that the ongoing guidance and support for teachers are highly important to ensure positive washback of the assessment. Ying’s (2010) study examined the impact of a SBA component introduced as a part of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination in English on the teaching and learning of English in a secondary school. Designed to assess students’ speaking skills, the SBA component was intended to become an integral part of instructional processes. The findings of the study indicated that the SBA exerted some influence on the amount of classroom activities and assessment practices, though it was treated by teachers as a separate exam. To ensure the intended washback, the researcher suggested that teachers should be provided with training in the implementation of SBA and assessment skills.Despite the growing number of washback studies worldwide, studies investigating the impact of language tests on teaching and learning in the Malaysian educational context are just starting to emerge. The study by Lee and Wong (2000) investigated the impact of the newly introduced SPM 1119 English paper on classroom teaching. Drawing on the data collected by means of semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, classroom observations of 18 teachers as well as analysis of relevant documents, it was found that the new paper had succeeded in generating overall positive washback. Nevertheless, some aspects of the paper, such as the scoring procedure were found to account for negative washback. The authors concluded that “the SPM 1119 has potential for positive washback. At the same, we are mindful that it takes more than the introduction of a new examination to bring about change in teaching and learning” (Lee & Wong, 2000, p. 21).The study by Majid, Samad, Muhamad, and Vethamani (2011) investigated the implementation of the SBOET in three MARA Junior Science Colleges (fully residential schools). Although not focused on the washback of the test, the study provided a valuable insight into the teachers’ and students’ opinions on the SBOET. Data collected through focus group interviews with 30 students as well as classroom observations and interviews with 14 teachers over the course of 7.5 months indicated differences in opinion between teachers and students with regards to the SBOET as well as proposed changes to the implementation of the test. While most teachers expressed dissatisfaction with the test, few teachers focused more on positive aspects of the SBOET. Students, on the other hand, concentrated on benefits of the test, such as gaining confidence in speaking and affirmation from peers. Similarly, with regards to changes suggested to be made to the test, students were primarily interested in improving implementation of the SBOET on the part of teachers and receiving more assistance from them, whereas teachers were “concerned with changing the test per se and less about their own development as teachers and their role as assessors and what they can do to improve students’ proficiency” (Majid et al., 2011, p. 123).2.5 Factors influencing washbackAs the washback studies reviewed above suggest, merely modifying an examination does not necessarily result in desired changes in teaching and learning. Rather, different factors embedded in the educational context are involved in mediating intended washback, which include the following: test factors (stakes of the test, test methods, test contents, skills tested, purpose of the test), teacher and student factors (beliefs, attitudes, experience, education, training, personality, teaching and learning style, etc), school factors (management within schools, the size of the class, variation of students’ abilities in the class); resources (exam support materials, textbooks) and macro-context factors (general social and political context) (Wall & Alderson, 1993; Alderson & Hamp-Lyons, 1996; Brown, 1997; Wall, 1997; Watanabe, 2004; Spratt, 2005; Tsagari & Cheng, 2017). Among these factors, the teacher factor is crucial in mediating the process of washback. As Spratt (2005) points out “it is the teacher who can then determine to a greater or lesser extent whether to allow washback to operate, what areas it should operate in and how” (p. 24). Moreover, Wall (2005) states that “examinations cannot influence teachers to change their practices if they are not committed to the new ideas and if they do not have the skills that will enable them to experiment with, evaluate and make appropriate adjustments to new methods” (p. 283). 

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