Aligning Curriculum, Instruction, and Classroom Assessment in a University English Language Program

Aligning Curriculum, Instruction, and Classroom Assessment in a University English Language Program

Caitlin A. Hamstra (Central Michigan University, USA) and Amy Bell (Central Michigan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6986-2.ch005

Abstract

Curriculum, instruction, and classroom assessments should all be aligned with each other in order to promote student learning. By achieving alignment, classroom assessments become integrated into the curriculum and guide what and how teachers teach and what and how students learn. This chapter describes the case of how one university English language program improved curricular alignment through the use of teacher alignment forms for student learning outcomes (SLOs), level meetings, the use of test specifications, a peer review process for test development, an assessment handbook, and assessment workshops for teachers. These practices ensure explicit and documented alignment among their curriculum, instruction, and assessments.
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Introduction

One major challenge for English language programs is to ensure consistency and continuity in instruction and assessment across course sections and among teachers. In this chapter, the authors will share the case of one language program as it developed more explicit curricular alignment. Following a review of the literature, there will be an overview of the program, its previous assessment practices, and its assessment problems. Then there will be an overview of the program’s current assessment practices, including the use of teacher alignment forms for student learning outcomes (SLOs), level meetings, the use of test specifications, a peer review process for test development, an assessment handbook, and assessment workshops for teachers. Finally, teachers’ feedback about the program’s current assessment practices will be shared.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Curricular Alignment: Curricular alignment is achieved when student learning outcomes (SLOs) are clearly stated and the instruction and assessments follow directly from the SLOs.

Assessment Literacy: The ability to create sound assessments that validly measure the student learning outcomes, to grade assessments reliably, to interpret students’ scores, and to use assessments to promote student learning.

Student Learning Outcomes: Can-do statements that express what a student should be able to do by the end of a course.

Test Specification: An outline for creating a test or other assessment. The outline may specify such details as which student learning outcomes should be assessed, how many questions to have for each outcome, how many points each question should be, and how to grade students’ responses.

Washback: The effect of a test on students’ learning and teachers’ instruction.

Achievement Tests: Any task given to students that assesses how well they have mastered the student learning outcomes of a course.

Content validity: The extent to which an assessment actually measures what it is supposed to measure.

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