Non-Traditional Assessment

     Often times, when the word "test" is mentioned, the idea of a quiet room with students writing or filling in answers to multiple choice forms is thought of. However, there are other methods of assessment that veer away from the traditional approaches to assessing students. Non-traditional assessment methods allow the knowledge or understanding of a concept to be measured using alternative strategies.

     Non-traditional assessments ask the students to perform, create, produce or do something. Generally non-traditional assessments are more authentic, because the students are using the language in real world contexts or situations. Alternative assessment can take place over a period of time; therefore, a process can be observed. This type of assessment tends to be formative, because periodic feedback is given during the time period.

    Non-traditional assessments allow for students to have some control and direction in their learning. Non-traditional assessments are not restricted by objective questions, rather there is a place for open-ended subjective questions.  Through this type of assessment, students are able to use their critical thinking skills and creativity to demonstrate their understanding of the material.

     Non-traditional assessment is conducive to teacher/student communication. There are multiple opportunities for the teacher to give feedback to the student. This student/teacher interaction can be beneficial in the development of the students' language ability.

     While this method of assessment has many benefits, there are a few weaknesses that should be considered.  Non-traditional assessments tend to have low practicality, because they take a lot of time to create, score, and provide feedback to the students. There is a considerable amount of effort on behalf of the teacher.  Scoring non-traditional assessment is also difficult.  There is a lot of subjectivity in grading these types of assignments, and it is difficult to avoid a bias. Also, non-traditional assessments need to have clear, guidelines and expectations for the students in order to be successful. If the assignment is ambiguous, the students will not fully understand what it is they need to accomplish.

     Non-traditional assessment methods are just some of the various strategies that teachers can use to measure the progress and ability of their students. There are several strengths to using non-traditional assessment in the foreign language classroom. In my opinion, the most influential benefit is the opportunity for authentic situations. 

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