CONSTRUCTING DISCRETE POINT TEST: GRAMMAR
Winarsih, Nastiti Fitria O. & Grandis Sesotya A.
- A. What is grammar?
Grammar (noun): the structure and system of a language or of languages in general, usually considered to consist of syntax and morphology. In linguistic, grammar is the set of structural rules that governs the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics.
- B. Grammatical ability/ competence based on the discrete point approach
Grammatical competence is the ability to recognize and produce the distinctive grammatical structures of a language and to use them effectively in communication.
2) Ability to apply the knowledge,
3) The application with attitude
Areas Constituting Grammar in Language Testing
- Sentence structure
- Using and identifying parts of speech
- Conjunction : coordinative & sub-ordinative
TYPE OF THE TEST
- 1. Multiple Choice Tests
It is probably the most common way of testing grammatical knowledge. It opens for many variations of questions.
- a. Variations of Multiple Choice Test
- The test maker gives the testee a sentence with a blank and four or five choices of a word or phrase which completes the sentence correctly. For example:
Because my mother was sick,
I _____ to go home last week.
a) had b) have c) has d) hadn’t
- To give the testees an utterance, and have them decide which of four or five utterances an appropriate response is. For example:
“I think that tuition is much too high here.”
a) I do so. b) Do I so.
c) I so do. d) So do I.
- To give testees a sentence and ask them to choose which of four or five alternatives has the same meaning. For example:
“The school should have expelled him.”
a) The school didn’t expel him, which was wrong.
b) The school expelled him, because it was necessary.
c) The school might have expelled him, if it had known.
d) The school will probably expel him in the near future.
- b. Error Analysis
- An error correction item is one in which the testee is given a sentence with an error. Four words or phrases in the sentence marked with letters and the testee needs to decide which of the words or phrases has the error. For example,
(a) Most of students (b) believe that they (c) should be getting better grades (d) than they are.
- c. Items to Test Knowledge of Word/Sentence Order
- The traditional way is to present the testee with four alternative word orders. Example:
I wonder how she knows _____.
a) how it costs much.
b) how much it costs.
c) it costs how much.
d) it how much costs.
- Another possibility is to give testees the four words and ask them to put the words in order. For example:
I wonder how she knows ___________________.
how / it /much / costs
- d. Completion items
For the purpose of a grammar test, the words which fit in the blanks should be function words, such as articles and prepositions. Completion items intended to test reading ability or vocabulary knowledge, in contrast, use content words.
- Example of Completion Items
- Give the book to ______ woman in the blue dress.
- Merdine danced a jig and then _____ a song that took my heart away.
- If you want to learn how to play video games, watch TV, or _____ donuts, spend an afternoon with my children.
- e. Transformation Items
Another type of grammar item makes use of transformations. In this type of item, test takers are given a sentence and the first few words of another sentence to change the original sentence without changing the meaning.
- Transformation Items Example
- Jim hasn’t been home in a long time.
It’s been a long time _______________________.
- I don’t need to go to the grocery store this week.
It isn’t __________________________________.
- It is difficult to study when it is so noisy.
- f. Word Changing Items
Another type of item is one in which the test takers are given a sentence and a word which they need to fit into the sentence by changing the form of the word.
- Word Changing Items Example
- I have __________ in Paris for the past two years (be)
- Yellow is ___________ favorite color (she)
- I have never ________ to Australia. (be)
- I will be with you __________. (moment)
- g. Sentence Combining Exercises
Sentence combining exercises can play a part in testing grammar as well as its more traditional use as part of composition testing and training.
- Sentence Combining Example
- I met Sally’s daughter. She has just got back from Afghanistan. ___________________________________________________.
- C. The Basics of Constructing Grammar Tests
Rea Dickins says that in order for a test to measure communicative grammar it must have five characteristics.
- The test must provide more context than only a single sentence.
- The test taker should understand what the communicative purpose of the task is.
- He or she should also know who the intended audience is.
- He or she must have to focus on meaning and not only form to answer correctly.
- Recognition is not sufficient. The test taker must be able “to produce grammatical responses”.
Advantages and disadvantages
- a. Multiple choice question
ü A large number of ideas can be addressed in a short period of response time.
ü These questions are easily and quickly scored.
ü Questions can elicit responses from all cognitive levels, from knowledge to evaluation.
ü Questions can be improved over time by analyzing them in light of student performance.
ü It is time-consuming to write good items, especially those at higher cognitive levels.
- b. Error Correction
ü It can increase the students’ sensitivity in assessing the sentences that they read
ü It’s difficult to construct the sentence without making the error looks obvious
- c. Completion items or fill in the blank
ü The advantage of completion items is that they test production, not just recognition.
ü It is possible to require a phrase instead of a word in each blank.
ü While it is probably not realistic for large- scale testing situations, it is something that is useful for classroom teachers who want to help their students develop an ability to produce appropriate grammatical forms in context.
ü A lot of vocabulary can be assessed in a minimal time.
ü Construction is relatively easy.
ü The disadvantage is that they need to be marked by hand and there will be some cases where the marker needs to make judgments about whether a response is correct.
ü It is not always easy to write items for which there is only one possible answer.
ü The understanding assessed is likely to be trivial (recall/knowledge level).
ü Difficult to avoid ambiguity in constructing questions.
ü Scoring requires careful reading for unanticipated but correct answers.
- d. Transform Items
ü To add grammatical knowledge
ü His type of test is difficult to grade because the teacher has to be aware of the variety of possible answers.
ü It does not in any way test the testees’ knowledge of when each of the possible transformations would be most appropriate
HOW TO CONSTRUCT TESTS
- A. Multiple Choice Items
- Use the same number of distracters (wrong answers) for every question.
- Use reasonable vocabulary and avoid wordiness and ambiguity.
- Examine questions carefully for subtle clues in word choice or phrasing.
- Provide clues in the stem, such as “a” or “an” at the end; put these articles with the distracters.
- B. Fill in the Blanks/ Completion Items
- Keep items brief.
- Try to ensure that only one term fits each blank.
- Give students credit for unanticipated yet correct responses.
- Lift statements directly from the book.
- C. Error Analysis
- Mix in some sentences that have no errors, and students are required to indicate that there is no error.
- The students might be required to correct the error.
- Provide two errors, or 2 possible errors in a statement.
- D. Sentence Order
- The sentence has complete grammatical components.
- Making the sentence too long.
- E. Transformation Items
- The word which starts the transformed sentence is underlined, or the testee is given one word to use in the new sentence.
- Combine more than 2 sentences, lead to confusion.
- F. Combining Exercise
- Specifying how the two sentences should be combined – for example by using relative pronoun
- Ask the students to combine more than two sentences.
Vocabulary can be defined roughly as the words we teach in the foreign language. However, a new item of vocabulary may be more than just a single word, for example, post-office and mother-in-law, which are made up of two or three words but express a single idea. A useful convention is to cover all such cases by talking about vocabulary “items” rather than “words” Ur (2003).
- A. Area of Vocabulary test
Ur (2003) describes the individual aspects of vocabulary:
- Meaning depending on the context
- B. Techniques in Vocabulary Testing
- Multiple choice(s)
- Sets (associated words)
- Matching items
- Objective items
- Completion items
- C. Types of Tests
- Multiple Choice
There are two kinds of tests in this type: Nearest in meaning and Completing. In nearest meaning, students have to make a definition of each vocabulary item. While in completing, it has two terms of giving an answer: contextual and collocation. Contextual means that teachers need to give the situation of the text in order to avoid ambiguity. Then, collocation is choosing the world or phrase which is often used with another word or phrase.
This dialogue is taken in doctor’s surgery which has a pharmacy
Lee : Can you tell me what time the doctor’s (1)… opens?
King: It’s open now. The (2) … will help you. (etc.)
(1) a. ward
(2) a. porter
The building is . . . Renovation now.
How to construct the test
- The options of the stem should be in the same words class/ part of speech.
- The options should be in the same level of difficulty.
- Grammatically and semantically, the context which is given should be not too brief, nor too broad.
- Giving incoherent options
- Giving too easy or too difficult options. Too easy option will be easily guessed while too difficult option may be tricked the students as well.
- We can use it either for testing single words, words in sentences or in texts.
- Easy to assess.
- Quite difficult to design.
- The students can select the answer even though they did not have knowledge about it.
- Time and energy consuming.
- Completion Item/Cloze Test
Cloze test is a exercise, test, or assessment consisting of a portion of text in which words are deleted from it then the students are asked to replace the missing words. This type of test can increase students achievement compared to an open-ended test, easy to assess, objective, practical, understandable and unambiguous. However, it is difficult to construct a good quality cloze test.
Read through the following passage containing a number of incomplete words. Write each complete word on your answer sheet at the side of the appropriate number. (Each dash represents one letter).
Snakes are one of the (1) d-m-n–t groups of (2) r-pt—-: there is at least two thousands different (3) sp-c–s of snakes (4) sc-t—-d over a wide area of the earth.
- Increase students achievement compared to an open-ended test
- Easy to score
- Understandable and unambiguous
- Difficult to construct a good quality test
How to construct the test
- Give a clear hint of each question
- Use one part of speech as the questions for each passage
- Avoid to use unfamiliar as the questions
It is a test in which the teacher reads out several words to test students’ ability to hear and write the words correctly. It is easy to construct and time saving, but teacher should be able to pronounce each word correctly to conduct this test.
Teacher dictate words related to office equipments, such as printer, photocopy, computer, etc.
The students write those words on their answer sheet based on what they have heard.
- Easy to make
- Time saving
- Teacher should be able to pronounce each word correctly to conduct this test.
How to construct the test
- Pronounce each word clearly and loudly.
- Read the words three times (for students to listen, answer, and check).
- Conduct the test in not a conducive situation (e.g. noisy environment).
- Synonym and Antonym
In these exercises, students must give the best synonym or antonym for the word given. It is easy to conduct this test and it is time saving. Teacher may meet difficulties in assessing the test because the answer can be various.
Fill in the blank with word with the same meaning.
Clever _______ (bright)
Important _______ (significant)
Fill in the blank with word with the opposite meaning
Beautiful _______ (ugly)
Happy _______ (sad)
- Jumbled Letters
The jumbled letters can be given in the pre-reading session. The teachers give the jumble word first to the students without giving the reading material first. This type of test is easy to conduct, time saving, and fun, yet it is difficult to set the standard due to students’ various background knowledge.
Arrange the letters into a word
- Odd one Out
Students have to determine which item does not belong among the others. The amount of items can be various. This kind of exercise is easy to prepare, however, the teacher must know which words her students know so that they could find the odd one.
Read each of the following lists of four words. One word does not belong in each list. Put a circle round the odd words in each list.
daughter happy pigeon
mother married geranium
girl engaged sparrow
aunt single swallow
Students have to underline those words which relate/belong to the key word.
“house, table, floor, window, curtain, bed, kitchen, chair”
“think, run, keep, walk, jump, answer”
Through matching we normally test the meaning of words, usually words of the opposite meaning. Students do not produce any vocabulary, they only match given words. There are also other possibilities than just matching words of opposite meaning. We can design a test where words and pictures are being matched, for example fruit or means of transport etc.
When do people send greeting cards? What messages do they choose? Match the messages below with the occasions. Some messages can be used more than once.
- Best wishes
- Good luck
- Season’s greeting
- Bon voyage
- Get well soon
- With sympathy
- Any time
- Someone has died
- Birthday/Anniversary/New Year
- Someone has got a new job
- Someone is going to take the exam
- Someone has just passed an exam
- Someone is getting marred
in the Concept of Discrete Point Approach
- A. Pronunciation
Pronunciation refers to the production of sounds that we use to make meaning. It includes attention to the particular sounds of a language (segments), aspects of speech beyond the level of the individual sound, how the voice is projected (voice quality) and, attention to gestures and expressions that are closely related to the way we speak a language.
- Scope of Pronunciation Test
- 1. Sound
ü Sound Discrimination
ü Sound Comparison
ü Sound Definition
ü Same Sound
ü Odd Man Out
ü Sound Recognition
- 2. Intonation
ü Intonation Pattern
- 3. Stress
ü Word Stress
- Advantages Pronunciation Test In The Concept of Discrete Point Approach
- To accustom the test-takers in distinguishing the words with similar pronunciation.
- To avoid misinterpretation in communication.
- In the term of scoring, the test is also reliable because of its objectivity, the scoring is efficient.
- Disadvantages Pronunciation Test In The Concept of Discrete Point Approach
- It is often impossible to manage the large number of students to be tested. Testing equipment, like laboratories or tape recorders, is scarce in many countries where English is taught. Even when such material is available, testing may be impossible by the lack of even more basic facilities such as electricity.
- It is not appropriate to all ages.
- The test do not include social context where verbal communication normally take place.
- Success in doing the test is not readily inferable to the ability of the test taker to communicate in real life circumstances.
- How to construct the test
- 1. Do’s
- Use common words that the test-takers find in the daily communication.
- If it is possible, try to use native speaker cassette to avoid mispronounce words and to accustom the test-takers to listen native speakers.
- Choose the words with similar pronunciation
- 2. Don’ts
- Give a large number of items in the same time.
- Put the distracters that can easily recognize by the test-takers (Test-wise)
c. bee (don’t use)
- Type of test
- Sound Discrimination
The test-takers listen to one word or sentence and circle the one they hear. The option should have similar pronunciation.
- a. Sock b. Suck
- a. But b. Bought
- Is that my (pen/pan)?
- He was severely (beaten/bitten) by his wife.
- Sound Definition
Test-takers listen to a word, and several different definitions including one that is correct for the word are given. Test-takers are asked to select the correct definition for the word they heard. It implies lexis and grammar knowledge.
- Test-takers’ answer sheet
- A vehicle that moves in the sea.
- Past participle of buy.
- Coordinating / conjunction
- Same Sound
The test-takers will listen to two same words and one different word. The test-taker should choose two same words.
- a. Bit, b. Bid, c. Bit
- a. Port, b. Pot, c. Pot
- Test-takers should answer
a & c
b & c
- Odd man Out
This is an opposite of the same sound technique. The test-takers will listen two same words and one different word. The test-taker should choose one different words.
- a. Bit, b. Bid, c. Bit
- a. Port, b. Pot, c. Pot
- Test-takers should answer
Test-takers listen to a sentence and select from a set of words the one they hear.
- Did you see the _______you were looking for?
- people b. pupil c. purple
- He died at the age of ________.
- Forty b. fourteen c. four
- Sound Recognition
Test-takers receive a set of card with words. The tester pronounces a certain word and the test taker should show the card which contains word pronounced.
- Intonation Pattern
Test-takers listen and identify the speaker’s intention according to his intonation pattern.
Listen to the following tag questions and circle the speaker’s intention according to his/her intonation pattern.
- Word Stress
The test-takers are given words then the tester pronounces the words. The test-takers should give the stress by underlining the syllabic.
Record (noun) Re cord
Record (Verb) Re cord