Jonathan Dixon

Jonathan Dixon

Hi! I currently work as an Assessment Solutions Consultant in Beijing for the British Council. I've been involved in the ESL industry for 18 yrs, working as a teacher, trainer, manager, and assessor.

Location United Kingdom

Activity

  • Great explanation!

  • Do you also ask students to take part in peer assessment too? (assessing each other after the group task)

  • The biggest challenge for the teacher! How can we make tests a positive learning experience, especially to our younger students?

  • Are you able to select speaking test questions that are more suitable for a younger age? Or would this make the test unfair for the wider population?

  • Which learner differences are the most important to consider when creating a test? Age is very important... any others?

  • Interesting comment you made concerning the teenage Cambridge C1 advance group; we often see something with IELTS; a test aimed at over 18s, however there are students as young as 11 who sometimes take the test! I wonder, who should be responsible in controlling what age test takers should be when taking certain tests?

  • Are there any written exercises your students could do that are not too difficult for them?

  • Were you able to pilot the test with real students?

  • Do you find the tests that you create produce accurate and reliable information about your students? In other words, do the scores represent the students' real language ability?

  • "Who knows better the students than the teacher?" the students themselves?! ;)

  • In your current workplace, does your academy director of studies also follow a test development cycle? It sounds like you would be able to assist with this! :)

  • I love the collaborative nature of your process! How do you measure the success of your test?

  • Excellent! I'm curious: what types of test items do you find the most difficult to create? :)

  • When you created tests at university, how successful do you think they were? What do you base this success on? :)

  • Before giving the test to students, do you pilot it with others? :)

  • When producing formative tests for students, do you give them a test score, detailed comments, or a mixture of both? :)

  • Do you find it more difficult to produce multiple choice questions or subjective questions? Which types of questions provide you with the most useful information about your students? :)

  • When producing the tests, did you follow aspects of the test development cycle mentioned in this chapter? Was there anything you were unable to follow? Why?

  • @ManuelCorrea Totally agree! :)

  • Good point: 'Teaching to the test' is very important to help build test familiarization with students.

  • @EmmaC Absolutely: Teachers feel the pressure to make students get high grades, which means their teaching is directed to passing the test, preventing students understanding the subject within a broader context.

  • The idea of teaching to the construct ABSOLUTELY applies as strongly for reading and listening! For example, it's much better to teach students how to read for details, understand main ideas, or distinguish fact from opinion than simply teaching them how to answer multiple choice questions :)

  • How effective do you think MCQs are in assessing someone's language ability?

  • Does that mean the tests you use also include tasks that are real-life and need students to cooperate? :)

  • Are there any situations when 'teaching to the test' may be appropriate? :)

  • Thanks for sharing :) Luckily, the CEFR does not contain too many descriptors that focus on grammatical accuracy...

  • What a range you teach! Which level do you prefer to teach? :)

  • I'm curious, Leopoldo, how do you deal with students who are not performing at the level they are placed in? :)

  • If you're interested, I'd also suggest looking at some of the other versions of Aptis (like Aptis for Teens and Aptis Advanced); you'll get to see how the test has been adapted for different types of test takers :)

  • Some great ideas! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Thanks for sharing :)

  • @VIVIANABAQUERO May I ask, what CEFR level are your students? And what level do you think you'll need to get students giving more than just personal information? (I agree, students are perhaps more motivated to talk about familiar topics... so how can we keep them motivated when talking about unfamiliar ones?) :)

  • How nervous do you think students feel if they are having an interactive conversation, in pairs, but it is being observed and assessed by an examiner?

  • How successful have your remote assessments been? :)

  • I'm curious: what kind of tasks do you use when assessing your students remotely? :)

  • Good points! And a constant challenge for teachers is how to offer our students an opportunity to convert tests into ‘positive learning experiences’...

  • @ThassianadeBalbinoSilva Good point; summative assessment is still an efficient way to report on what has been achieved to different stakeholders, including student, parents, and school decision-makers.

  • @NataliaEspinosa Even more sad when research shows that effective formative assessment is one of the most important contributors to success in summative assessment! :)

  • @EmmaC Great suggestion!

  • It'll be interesting to see if these positive changes will continue once things return to normal...

  • Great to hear! I wonder if there's any way we can reduce the anxiety caused by tests?

  • How are your students when doing a live test through a computer? Is their performance similar to that of a live test, face to face in a classroom? :)

  • Are the activities you use similar to the tasks found in the test? :)

  • Thanks for sharing :)

  • Can you have your students prepare for the topic before they share their opinion? (like 10 mins of online research)?

  • Quite a few experts have looked into the formative use of summative tests (FUST): This focuses on using tests designed primarily for summative purposes to produce formative information, by identifying students’ learning difficulties, supporting students in learning from their test performance, and helping students further develop their learning capacities.

  • During feedback, do you also give your students information and guidance in order to plan the next steps in their learning?

  • Very true! Research shows that effective formative assessment is one of the most important contributors to success in summative assessment. This is because learners have a clear idea of what good work looks like and what they need to do to reach this standard.

  • Yep, exactly... FA reflects a view of learning in which assessment helps students learn better rather than just achieve a better grade :)

  • Quick question: How much formative assessment do you do throughout the year? Perhaps giving comments and no grades (or comments before giving grades) could help encourage your students?

  • Completely agree! Where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there :)

  • Do you have any aspects of formative assessment in your continuous assessment?

  • @ASIMIJAZCHEEMA Or any country where technology is an issue... so, if students do not have access to the internet or computers, how could this activity be adapted?

  • @DanilG Thanks for sharing!

  • In what ways can an analytical scale be holistic?

  • Agree :) But you might need to carefully choose which listening texts to choose (radio programmes might be a little difficult for them!)

  • That sounds quite a big jump! (more like Band 3 to Band 6). Is there any other smaller steps you could introduce?

  • Are the IELTS rating scales suitable for scoring a group discussion? What other criteria may need to be included?

  • Are your students fully able to understand the IELTS band descriptors? OR do you need to simplify, or even translate them into your students' L1?

  • Completely agree! Having students understand the scoring criteria you use at an early point really helps with the development of their self-assessment skills :)

  • One great thing about the CEFR is that the can-do statements can become learning objectives for students... which can hopefully help guide your student that you talk about.

  • How do you determine the CEFR levels of your students? :)

  • If all students are currently at A2 level, what level of material are you teaching them?

  • What if you place your students in pairs or small groups, based on similar CEFR levels? Any other suggestions? :)

  • Yep, it can be quite hard to explain levels without a 'common assessment language' to do so... Do use use any kind of framework to help you explain their level to parents?

  • Week 4 should be interesting to you :)

  • Jonathan Dixon replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Yep, two very 'hot' terms in the world of assessment these days :)

  • Could these mini-tasks be simply classed as 'controlled' or 'guided' tasks, leading to more 'freer' tasks?

  • Yep, agree... I notice 'formative assessment' is often misunderstood with a few teachers... for example, a heard a teacher once saying they 'graded their students' formative assessment work'...?!?!?