Tests as Security Valves Backwash Effect on Course Syllabus

Kızılcık H. H., Çopur D.

IATEFL Testing, Evaluation and Assessment SIG Conference: Language testing: Current trends and future needs., Granada, Spain, 23 - 25 October 2014

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Granada
  • Country: Spain
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Tests as Security Valves: Backwash Effect on Course Syllabus

The six stages of Brown’s curriculum design are specified as needs analysis, objectives, testing, materials design, instruction and evaluation (1995). Testing is before materials design and instruction because in this way, the program is not run by the materials and instruction, and objectives identified through needs analysis are in the foreground. Testing serves as “a security valve” for the program.

 This case study illustrates how tests function as a security valve in programs. As the researchers carried out a program evaluation study in ENG 311 Advanced Communication Skills course offered by the Department of Modern Languages in Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, they discovered the conflict between the course coordinator, test writers, course instructors and students in relation to the exam content. Validity and reliability concerns were constantly raised in the meetings.

 The study data was collected from a variety of sources including the course syllabus, test specifications, meeting minutes, classroom observations, student questionnaire and focus group interview. Analysing the data, the researchers prepared a validity and reliability frame. This frame revealed that the course syllabus was in need of revision.  

 In this presentation, the participants will learn how problems in the test revealed the underlying problems in the syllabus design. The validity and reliability frame and suggestions the researchers made for the course coordinator and test writers will be shared.