Sunday, October 21, 2007


Topic: Validity and reliability - issues and discussion Date: 30 December 2006 11:43 PM
Subject: Instructions Author: Mondy, Steven

When we give a test, don't we do so after a long process of introducing the test procedures throughout our teaching? Before attempting the test, the students in many of my classes are often given a pre-test, or warm up test, so that they can become familiar with the kinds of questions and to the types of instructions that they will face.
Also, in the test, each new kind of test item is introduced with an example with answer, or at least the first question is done for them, so that they can work out what to do, if they actually know the content.
I've played with the idea of using the native language of the test takers, but have opted not to, as I feel that a properly presented test (pre-test, test, and post-test activities) can make it possible for any level student to undertake a test solely in the target language.
However, the kinds of instructions are significantly different depending on the level of the student. I find it quite difficult to write clear instructions for lower level students in particular. To resist the urge to use complicated or confusing jargon.

Another thing that I've been pondering is the use of 'please' in instructions. When writing instructions, do we say...Please circle the correct answer, or do we say circle the correct answer? Many would say that we should make our instructions as clear as possible, with little room for misinterpretation. Does that mean we should take the second option?

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