Testing Computer Assisted Language Learning
Over the past few years, computers have become a vastly popular household item. The luxury of emailing messages as opposed to charging up the phone bill is more appealing. Checking news, weather, and sports via the Internet is a convenience that many are taking advantage of.
The study of foreign language learning involves in all language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. It explores opportunities that English as a Foreign Language (EFL), teachers have created to help students meet English language literacy goals in technology enhance language learning classroom environment.
Today students are already getting influenced by technology – and this is just the beginning. Computers and Internet are here to stay and software titles targeting every student in every level continue to increase. Computer science is has become a compulsory subject in some schools. Today, and also we can find computers in use everywhere, whether we go to reserve a train ticket or to a Bank. This is because it is faster and helps us complete our work without mistakes/errors. So every teacher has realized the need of having knowledge with the computer and it also help their students develop strong computer skills.
Computer assisted language learning is not only in the process of learning but also in assessing students. Teachers should know exactly how to test students using computer assisted language learning. They should know the advantages and disadvantages.
Given the advantages of individual, time-independent language testing, computer-assisted testing will no doubt prove to be a positive development. Consider the benefits of a writing test administered in a computer laboratory as the final examination for an ESL writing course. Such a computer-assisted test would be especially suitable for students who had been required to do all of their writing assignments in the course on a PC. In such a course, it would make imminent sense to allow the students to do their final examination writing samples on a computer and turn in the diskette at the end of the testing period (or send the file by modem or network to the teacher). Under such circumstances, the testing period could be quite long to allow time for multiple revisions.
Based on James Dean Brown The advantages of using computers in language testing can be further subdivided into two categories: testing considerations and human considerations.
Among the testing considerations, the following are some of the advantages of using computers in language testing:
- Computers are much more accurate at scoring selected-response tests than human beings are.
- Computers are more accurate at reporting scores.
- Computers can give immediate feedback in the form of a report of test scores, complete with a printout of basic testing statistics.
- IRT and computer-adaptive testing allow testers to target the specific ability levels of individual students and can therefore provide more precise estimates of those abilities (see Bock & Mislevy, 1982).
- The use of different tests for each student should minimize any practice effects, studying for the test, and cheating (for discussion of an IRT strategy to help spot such cheating, see Drasgow, Levine, & McLaughlin, 1987).
- Diagnostic feedback can be provided very quickly to each student on those items answered incorrectly if that is the purpose of the test. Such feedback can even be fairly descriptive if artificial intelligence is used (for more on such uses of artificial intelligence, see Baker, 1989, pp. 423-425, or Bunderson, Inouye, & Olsen, 1989, pp. 398-402).
Among the human considerations, the following are some advantages of using computers in language testing:
- The use of computers allows students to work at their own pace.
- CALTs generally take less time to finish than traditional paper-and-pencil tests and are therefore more efficient (as found for CALTs in Madsen, 1991, and for CATs in Kaya-Carton, Carton, & Dandonoli, 1991, and Laurier, 1996).
- In CALTs, students should experience less frustration than on paper-and-pencil tests because they will be working on test items that are appropriate for their own ability levels.
- Students may find that CALTs are less overwhelming (as compared to equivalent paper-and-pencil tests) because the questions are presented one at a time on the screen rather than in an intimidating test booklet with hundreds of test items.
- Many students like computers and even enjoy the testing process (Stevenson & Gross, 1991).
James also gives the disadvantages of using computers in language testing can also be further subdivided into two categories: physical considerations and performance considerations.
Among the physical considerations, the following are some of the disadvantages of using computers in language testing:
- Computer equipment may not always be available, or in working order. Reliable sources of electricity are not universally available.
- Screen capacity is another physical consideration. While most computers today have overcome the 80 characters by 25 lines restrictions of a few years ago, the amount of material that can be presented on a computer screen is still limited. Such screen size limitations could be a problem, for example, for a group of teachers who wanted to develop a reading test based on relatively long passages.
- In addition, the graphics capabilities of many computers (especially older ones) may be limited, and even those machines that do have graphics may be slow (especially the cheaper machines). Thus, tests involving even basic graphs or animation may not be feasible at the moment in many language teaching situations.
Among the performance considerations, the following are some of the disadvantages of using computers in language testing:
- The presentation of a test on a computer may lead to different results from those that would be obtained if the same test were administered in a paper-and-pencil format (Henning, 1991). Some limited research indicates that there is little difference for math or verbal items presented on computer as compared with pencil-and-paper version (Green, 1988) or on a medical technology examination (Lunz & Bergstrom, 1994), but much more research needs to be done on various types of language tests and items.
- Differences in the degree to which students are familiar with using computers or typewriter keyboards may lead to discrepancies in their performances on computer-assisted or computer-adaptive tests (Hicks, 1989; Henning, 1991; Kirsch, Jamieson, Taylor, & Eignor, 1997)
- Computer anxiety (i.e., the potential debilitating effects of computer anxiety on test performance) is another potential disadvantage (Henning, 1991).
Teachers should not only know about computer assisted language learning but also should know how to evaluate the learning process. So as a teacher we have to develop our skill in using computer as equipment in teaching.
http//llt.msu.edu/vol I num/brown/default.html
Hartoyo,M.A.,Ph.D (2008). Individual Differences in Computer Assisted Language Learning. Semarang. Pelita Insani Semarang.