This paper “Methods Used to Assess Learners Writing Ability” presents and explains a number of testing approaches and methods, and how reliable they can be in giving feedback as far as assessing the writing skills of students is concerned…
As a result of their proven utility, tests as well as other standardized assessments are broadly applied in educational settings. To reap the potential benefits that are associated with tests, it is critical that they are understood completely and their strengths and weaknesses evaluated (Wall & Walz, 2004).
Testing is a special way of collecting information that can be employed while making decisions about a person, a program or an organization and tests consist of items that prompt responses from a person. Testing does not comprise of the simple administration of a set of questions or tasks that have to be performed as the tests need to be scored and the results used for evaluation (Wall & Walz, 2004).
Essay tests are usually considered to be more valid as compared to multiple-choice questions when measuring the writing ability of students as they have the ability of sampling a broader range of composition skills. On the other hand, variance in the scores associated with essay tests can demonstrate irrelevant factors like speed and fluency under the pressure of time or penmanship (Weigle, 2002). Multiple choice testing over-predicts the performance of minority students as far as essay testing is concerned and there is no certainty as to whether these tests have fundamentally equivalent predictive validity for candidates who are not in the same academic discipline where what they are supposed to write is not the same. The best tests that assess writing ability blend both essay and multiple-choice questions but this approach may be too expensive while the alternatives that may be relatively cheaper may have a compromising effect on the quality of the assessment.
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