This article aimed to consider the integration of test and instruction types in both developing and measuring EFL learners’ achievement of grammar. To this end, input-oriented instruction based on structured input tasks including affective and referential tasks was employed in teaching the target grammatical items to one group of EFL learners, while the counterpart group was exposed to output-oriented instruction through presentation, practice, and production (PPP) approach. The outcomes of both groups were measured through interpretative test and production test at sentence level.
A multivariate ANOVA was run to analyze the results. The result showed much more effectiveness of input based instruction than the output-oriented on one hand, and the production type of testing showed more revealing than the interpretive type. The findings may be attribute to the discrete and objective nature of the construct of grammar and its elements. More than its pedagogical implications, the study opens room for further research as to the other areas of language construct.
Researchers need to judge about learners’ talent and knowledge through amalgamation of instruction and test. Type of instruction effects the perception of learners and their production of knowledge. Merging type of tests assist teachers to become familiar with cognition of their learners. Second language learning and testing are an integrated phenomenon. Learners’ state of mind can be divided into high input graspers, middle input graspers and low input graspers. Instruction and testing are those parts of teachers’ accountability for learning. This part is free from considering learners’ cognition, learners’ affective state of mind, learners ‘orientation toward learning.
The realm of Assessment is built on the pillars of it. The seven pillars are questions of Why assess?, How to assess?, What to assess?, When to assess?, Who assesses?, How well do we assess? , and What next. The focus of this article is on the second pillar that is how to assess. Continuous versus terminal assessment can be through formative assessment and summative assessment. Formative and summative functions are the purposes for the first pillar. There are different modes of assessment. It can be in process mode or product mode.The researcher focuses on the process mode and product mode in both input-driven instruction and product-driven instruction. In input driven instruction, the process mode is considered through formative assessment in the class and at the end formative assessment is considered. In productive-driven instruction the summative assessment is considered. The process of learning is an evidence for the outcome of learning. Learning is not one shot phenomena that ends with just final course testing. Currently, Learning is going toward process-driven rather than just outcome-driven. Teachers role is going toward evidence-driven detectives in the context of learning. Teachers’ magnifying glasses in the class is not their eyes but their cognition.They need to boost and magnify their cognition to have correct and reliable inferences. The teachers ‘accountability is vasted from just teaching toward preparing the reliable content in relation to context.
Interpretation of the test scores and the consequences of test scores in future life of individuals is related to teachers accountability. Presenting input to learners is not enough but assessing the output is acrobatic job for teachers. Although presenting the output is not enough but accountability of learners for learning with mutual understanding of context in line with noticing is needed. Individuals are not neutral in the context but they shape the environment of teaching. Input and output in the cyclical format without attention and noticing are vague. Learners start to assess themselves as they notice their process of learning. Learners accountability is expanded toward assessing the process and the outcome of learning.
Allen (2004) has explained that educational assessment is the organized procedure of recording and using practical data on the knowledge, skill, attitudes, and beliefs to enhance curriculums and advance learner’s knowledge. Gipps (1994) has argued that assessment has experienced a pattern modification, a movement toward scholastic assessment and cultural assessment in place of the traditional type of psychometrics and testing culture. Law & Eckes (1995) have argued that assessment and testing conspicuously vary from each other. Even though testing is arranged and standardized, assessment is based on an assortment of material about what learners are familiar with and what they are capable to do. In other words, students are given the precise procedures for managing and scoring in testing. In assessment, on the other hand, there are manifold ways and methods of gathering facts at diverse periods and settings.
According to Bailey (1998), traditional assessments are indirect and inauthentic. Traditional assessment is standardized and norm-referenced. Bailey (1998) has indicated that there is no feedback delivered to learners in this type of assessment. The projects are mainly individualized , and the assessment procedure is decontextualized. Law and Eckes (1995) point out most standardized tests assess only the lower-order thinking skills of the learner. Traditional assessment tools involve apprentices to show their information in a prearranged way (Brualdi, 1998).
Alternative assessments assess higher-order thinking skills. Learners have the chance to exhibit what they learned. This type of assessment tools focus on the growth and the performance of the student. That is, if a learner fails to perform a given task at a particular time, s/he still has the opportunity to demonstrate his/her ability at a different time and different situation. Since alternative assessment is developed in context and over time, the teacher has a chance to measure the strengths and weaknesses of the student in a variety of areas and situations (Law and Eckes, 1995).
Erl and Katz (2006) introduced the types of assessment based on the classroom purposes. Before that different types of alternative assessment and performance assessment were introduced as an alternative to testing. As the researcher used formative assessment and summative assessment through the instruction the following concepts are demonstrated in the study.
The purpose of classroom assessment is divided into three types of assessment of learning, assessment as learning, assessment for learning. In the traditional types of assessing the focus is on assessment of learning without attention to the process of learning. The output-driven instruction in this research is based of assessment of learning without focus on the process.Input-driven instruction in this research is based on formative assessment that is a type of assessment for learning.
It is a sort of summative assessment to measure student achievement and gauge what they have learned. To report the level of learners’ learning is the goal of this sort of assessment. Assessment of learning methods consist of not only tests and examinations, but also a diversity of products and demonstrations of learning-portfolios, exhibitions, performances, presentations, simulations, multimedia projects, and a variety of other written, oral, and visual methods ( Earl & Katz, 2006).
Assessment as learning focusses on students and emphasizes assessment as a process of metacognition for students. Assessment as learning emerges from the idea that learning is not just a matter of transferring ideas from someone who is knowledgeable to someone who is not, but is an active process of cognitive restructuring that occurs when individuals interact with new ideas. Within this view of learning, students are the critical connectors between assessment and learning. In this type of assessment, the process of developing and supporting metacognition for learners is important. Teachers guide learners to monitor and critically reflect on their own learning.Teachers use different modes to elicit student`s learning and metacognitive processes.Teacher Provide descriptive feedback to each learner. Although many assessment methods have the potential to boost reflection and review, what matters in assessment as learning is that the methods let students to reflect their own learning in relation to models, exemplars, criteria, rubrics, frameworks, and checklists that provide images of fruitful learning ( Earl & Katz, 2006).
Assessment for learning originates in the research of Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam. Black and Wiliam recognised that what teachers and learners do in the classroom is complicated and little is understood about what happens. They likened the classroom to a black box (an object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs without any knowledge of its internal workings) and set out to investigate what was happening inside. What they discovered was that students who learn in a formative way achieve much more and obtain better results than other students.
Black and Wiliam in 1998 printed their innovations in a booklet for experts.They indicated that formative assessment is the soul of operational teaching. Assessment for learning is created as one of the ways of humanizing learning and raising standards (Hargreaves, 2005). Teachers use focussed observations, questioning, conversations, quizzes, computer-based assessments, learning logs, or other methods are probably to give them data that will be valuable for their enhancement and their training. The methods require combining a pool of performances for learners to define their learning. For instance, prospects for learners to complete tasks orally or via visual representation are important for those who are struggling with reading, or for those who are new English-language learners ( Earl, & Katz, 2006).
Any exposure to linguistic knowledge is called input. Different modes of input are visual, auditory, textual. The linguistic knowledge that learners grasp is called intake. Some scholars follow the intake product view , and some follow the intake process view. The conflict between two views is the place of the intake in second language learning.Whether it happened before processing or after processing step. There are two classes of instruction that are input-driven and output-driven instruction. In Input-based instruction the manipulated linguistic knowledge is served to students to process (Ellis, 2012). Processing instruction, textual enhancement, input flood, visual enhancement are diverse forms of input-driven teaching. The focus of this study is processing instruction that is derived from Van Patten’s input processing. In this type of instruction, learners are pushed to process input by being asked to show that they have understood the meaning of a target feature in input by providing a non-verbal or minimally verbal response such as choosing between two pictures while listening to a sentence that describes one of the pictures (Ellis, 2012). Another way to implement input-based instruction is to manipulate the input in some way that make some target features more noticeable to learners. Textual enhancement gets students’ attention via underlining, bolding, or capitalizing target input features. As a result they acquire those aspects of input that are more noticeable and salient. Input enrichment or input flood.In enriched input the target feature appears with high frequency but with no textual manipulation. It is believed that the increased tokens of input target forms attract learners’ attention (Hulstijn, 2003).
In this research, structured input activities in the story based context are utilized in input-based instruction (processing instruction): referential and affective. Referential activities involve students to focus on form in order to get meaning and have a right or wrong answer. Affective activities involve students to opine notion or some other affective replication as they are engaged in processing information about the authentic world (Van Patten, 2004).
Comprehensible input, comprehended input and Comprehensible output are three important stages of second language learning.
Production of language orally or written is called output in second language learning.
Output that is not comprehended is not enough. It needs negotiation and modification. Modified output and simplified output and pushed output are concepts that are introduced by Long and Swain (1985).
Swain (1985) asserts that output “pushed” students from the “semantic processing” required for understanding input to the “syntactic processing” needed for encrypting meaning. Traditional instruction that is based on presentation, practice and production is a kind of output-driven instruction.In this kind of instruction, product is prominent to process. Pushed output is another type of output-driven instruction that focuses on the concept of noticing the gap and noticing the hole.The learners pay attention to the gap and hole in their interlanguage system.
Swain (1985) assigns various roles for output:
Output practice helps learners to improve fluency; output practice helps learners to check comprehension and linguistic correctness and Output practice helps learners to focus on form. Swain (1985) has pointed out that comprehensible input might not be sufficient to develop native-like grammatical competence and learners also need comprehensible output. Learners needs “pushed output” that is speech or writing that will force learners to produce language correctly, precisely and appropriately.
Output may act in second language learning in at least four ways (Swain, 1995). One function of producing the target languages that it boosts fluency. Another hypothesized function of output is related more to accuracy than fluency. The other functions are: (1) the “noticing function that is a consciousness raising role (2) the hypothesis testing function; and (3) the Metalinguistic function (Swain, 1995). McLaughlin (1987) claimed that automatization consisted of a learned response that has been built up through the consistent mapping of the same input to the same pattern of activation over many trials. Here this notion is extended to output, meaning that consistent and successful mapping or practice of grammar to output results in automatic processing (Loschky & Bley-Vroman, 1993).
Grammar is the heart of speaking and writing skills.The researcher took a quantitative approach to this study with the intention of focusing on structured tasks, output tasks on learning grammar.
Tavakoli and Skehan (2005) have explained that the term structured can be defined as the clarity of larger structures and series of activities and events to be explained in time.Tasks with logical story line structures and frameworks are easier to understand and need less cognitive processing to unfold than those tasks with loose and irregular structure. Tavakoli and Skehan (2005) have explained that narrative tasks are stories built on a sequenced set of photo stimuli, that are given to partakers to produce language performance.
This study intend to explore a beneficial instruction and assessment tool to fill the gap in learning grammar and assessing learners` knowledge in context of Iran. The present study seeks to answer the following questioons:
Q1- Does input-driven instruction have any significant effect on grammatical learning assessed through formative interpretive assessment and summative productive assessment?
Q2- Does output-driven instruction have any significant effect on grammatical learning assessed through interpretive summative assessment and summative productive assessment?
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