International Conference on English Language Teaching Instruction and Assessment

What Every Language Teacher Should Know About Standardized and Classroom Testing

James Dean Brown
University of Hawai'i at Manoa

This speech will center on tests as they are used in language classrooms. The speech will begin with discussion of the crucial differences between classroom tests and standardized tests in terms of purposes, types of decisions, levels of generality, students' expectations, score interpretations, and score report strategies. Specific guidelines will then be provided for writing different types of items. First, a general set of guidelines will be presented and explained followed by three more specific sets of guidelines: (a) for the different types of receptive-response item formats (true-false, multiple-choice, and matching) will be provided; (b) for the various sorts of productive-response item formats (fill-in, short-answer, and task-based); and (c) for three types of personal-response item formats (portfolios, self-assessments, and conferences). The speech will end by considering some of the beneficial effects of good classroom testing as they relate to language students, teachers, and curriculum.


James Dean ("JD") Brown is currently Professor of Second Language Studies on the graduate faculty of the Department of SLS at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His areas of specialization include language testing, curriculum design, program evaluation, and research methods. He was educated at California State University Los Angeles (BA French), University of California Santa Barbara (BA English Literature), and University of California Los Angeles (MA TESL and PhD in Applied Linguistics). For two years, he was senior scholar in the UCLA/China Exchange Program at Zhongshan University in the People's Republic of China. For three years, he was an assistant professor at Florida State University and Academic Coordinator for the FSU/ARAMCO MA Program that was delivered on site in Saudi Arabia. In 1992, he was a Fulbright scholar at Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro. He has been invited to conduct workshops and teach courses in places as divers as Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Venezuela, and the former Yugoslavia. He has served on the editorial boards of the TESOL Quarterly, Language Testing, Language Learning and Technology, and JALT Journal, as well as on the TOEFL Research Committee, the TESOL Advisory Committee on Research, and the Executive Board of TESOL. In addition to over 200 book chapters and articles in publications like TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Newsletter, Language Learning, Language Testing, Modern Language Journal, System, JALT Journal, The Language Teacher, and RELC Journal, he has published a number of books: Understanding Research in Second Language Learning: A teacher's guide to statistics and research design (Cambridge, 1988); The Elements of Language Curriculum: A systematic approach to program development (Heinle & Heinle, 1995); Language Testing in Japan (with Yamashita, JALT, 1995); Testing in Language Programs (Prentice-Hall, 1996); New Ways of Classroom Assessment (TESOL, 1998); and Using Surveys in Language Programs (Cambridge, 2001); as well as a Chinese edition of his Cambridge 1988 book (The People's Education Press, 2001); a Japanese translation of his 1996 testing book (translated by Wada, Taishukan Shoten Publishers, 1999); two books with Hudson and Detmer on testing pragmatics (U. of Hawaii Press); two with Norris and Hudson on performance testing (U. of Hawaii Press, 1998, 2002); another edited with Hudson on developing language tests (University of Hawaii Press, 2001); and two co-authored books, one with Rodgers entitled Doing Second Language Research (Oxford, 2002), and the other with Hudson entitled Criterion-Referenced Language Testing (Cambridge, 2002).