Computer Based Testing Tool Review 2
Vassos: http://nepton.engine.intercol.edu/
Elena: TOEFL www.ets.org/toefl/ http://toeflpractice.ets.org
Andria http://www.eskill.com/english-language-testing.htm
Beria: TOEIC: http://www.english-test.net/toeic/



Introduction

The influence of technology on teaching today is an issue that concerns educators from all over the world. Educators are investigating how they can bring the assessment of student learning into alignment with the various methodologies such as technology.



Many factors should be taken into account in order to assess student learning. One factor is feedback. Giving students enough feedback is extremely important as they need to know how they are doing. Moreover, feedback motivates and guides students so that they will eventually improve their performance. In order to succeed that, we should provide students enough feedback for each activity so that they always know how they are doing. In 1980 at a conference a speaker noted that teachers should use “The Nintendo Principle” (211) which suggests that “the engagement is the continuous feedback, that occurs as students are allowed to rapidly try out different actions” in order to solve more complex problems. This is similar to how children are engaged in computer games in order to reach the highest score. The more challenging the goal of the game the more students are engaged.



The question is: is the traditional way of testing effective enough for the students needs? Students tend to get lower grades when they are tested using language from real life situations. Eisner’s concern on this issue is that standardised tests are measuring the learning outcomes of the students. In Wilson and David words “standardised exams measure the kinds of knowledge that are becoming steadily less relevant to our definition of education” (212). Even more interesting is the explanation given by Darling Hammond that “focusing on testing without investing in organizational learning is rather like taking a patient’s temperature over and over again without taking the necessary steps to promote greater health” (212). Therefore, in order to prevent this we must find an alternative way to assess students’ learning.



The solution to this issue is to shift from the old traditional way to technology. The various tools we have access to today can make our life easier and more effective. Using technology to assess students is far more inspiring and motivating than the old traditional way. Students are able to collaborate, by working and comparing their work with other students. Furthermore, technology brings lessons to life and students are able to practise language in real life situations. Increasing motivation also brings more creativity to students work. Moreover, the lesson becomes student centred and the teacher acts as an observer. In addition, more time is available for teachers to move around, interact and give feedback to students. Nowadays, technology and the internet provide students with numerous language tools, for any level and any subject.



In order for individuals to occupy and develop the English language, there are a variety of tests and elements that could help them to work individually to develop their language skills, or either take a placement test to see which level they are suitable to begin at, which will measure the areas in which they have to improve and develop in, (Tool 3), and (Tool 2). Each and every one of these tests aim to help individuals improve their language skills for the benefits of their future. Due to the English Language being a lingua franca nowadays, more people are trying to find ways to learn or improve their English, therefore, there have been 4 influential and effective tests that can help individuals obtain such elements that need to be revised or improved to fulfil in learning a particular language. Such tests are aided to some individuals that haven’t the time to attend English Courses and would rather learn on their own by the aid of tests or study guides, others, however, will need to take such tests to see which parts of the English Language they are lacking in and feel they need to improve, therefore, they would want to take such tests that help evaluate their status and see which areas they need development in. The four main tests that have been evaluated below (NEPTON, TOEIC,TOEFL, Quick Placement Test) are those that have been quite beneficial and influential for individuals who try to find such elements to improve or develop their English Language use.



Tool 1 description

Vassos


This test was created by the University of Nicosia. The NEPTON test was designed and developed by Intercollege Second Language (L2) and Information Technology (IT) Online Test Specialists. The NEPTON test is provided only in English. NEPTON stands for New English Placement Test Online.

NEPTON is a computer based examination which tests grammar, vocabulary and reading. The questions in the test are all multiple choice and they are selected automatically by the computer from a large bank of questions. This way every student’s test is slightly different. The test is corrected and marked by the computer in order to avoid any mistakes and the results are saved securely. NEPTON is user friendly and simple enough for everyone to understand. It takes 70 minutes to finish the test.

NEPTON is obligatory for all prospective students of the University. The purpose of this test is to determine the English level of the students so that they can be placed in the appropriate level in order to support their academic studies. NEPTON can only be taken on campus at the University of Nicosia and it is only for students of the University.

NEPTON contains a variety of questions such as:


a. Sentence based multiple choice questions on English Structure and Vocabulary.

b. A text with dropdown menu multiple choice questions on structure or vocabulary.

c. Reading comprehension activities involving a sign and multiple choice questions.

d. Reading comprehension activities consisting of a text and four multiple choice questions.

e. The writing task: The student is given a choice of three possible writing tasks and is expected to write one page.


A sample of the NEPTON test is provided to the students by the University so that they have some idea of how the test is going to be presented.


To see the test sample please click here.

To see an online demo of the NEPTON test please click here.


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In my opinion the NEPTON test is extremely
important and useful. It helps students identify
and get feedback on their English level.
However, at the same time it helps the University
to place students in the appropriate level so that
they will be able to cope with their academic studies.
What is interesting about this tool is that NEPTON is
considered a “smart” Computer Based exam.
It chooses the questions randomly from a
vast amount of stored data and even more
importantly it autocorrects the tests without
having to worry about mistakes.
The results are held securely and the results are ready in only a few minutes.




Activities Evaluation


Exercise 17

This is a reading comprehension activity with very rich vocabulary.

It is one of the most demanding and challenging activities of the

NEPTON test. Students must have a high level of English in order to

completely comprehend the text.

Moreover, the exercises 29, 30, 31, 32 are also important for the purpose

of this test as prepositions are sometimes confusing and difficult to learn especially

for non native speakers of English.

Since this online test has been created for students entering the University

I believe the level of English required is satisfying.


Overall, NEPTON is an accurate, effective, fast and reliable tool.
Back to my wiki











Tool 2 Description

Elena

The TOEFL Test
Test of English as a Foreign Language

Electronic address: http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.fab2360b1645a1de9b3a0779f1751509/?vgnextoid=69c0197a484f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&WT.ac=Redirect_ets.org_toefl
Publisher/ Provider/ Author:
ETS.
ETS stands for Educational Testing Service and it is a private, nonprofit organisation devoted to educational measurement and research, primarily through testing.
Subject area: The TOEFL test is a specific test only for English. However other tests provided by ETS also cover other areas, apart from language.


Test overview

1. What is it? It is a test which measures the ability of nonnative speakers of English to communicate in English in the college or university classroom. Test scores are used in the admissions process at more than 6,000 academic institutions throughout the world. There are two types of tests: the TOEFL iBT, which is the internet-based test, as well as the TOEFL PBT, the paper-based test

2. Why take it? It gets students the chance to access more than 6 000 institutions in more than 130 countries.

3. What does it assess / measure? The TOEFL test measures your ability to communicate in English in colleges and universities.

4. Who should take it? It gives more choices about where one wants to study. It is accepted in almost every university in the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

5. Where can one take it? There are more than 4.300 test centres worldwide. In Cyprus there is an Internet-based test in Nicosia as well as in Famagusta in North Cyprus.

6. Who accepts it? More than 6 000 colleges and universities in more than 130 countries.

7. Test content: The TOEFL iBT consists of 4 sections on reading, listening, writing and speaking, whereas the TOEFL PBT has no speaking section. Instead of that, there is a structure (grammar) section.

8. Duration: The total time of the iBT is approximately 4 hours (60-100 minutes for the reading section, 60-90 minutes for the listening section, 50 minutes writing, 20 minutes speaking and 10 minutes break!), whereas the total time for the PBT is approximately 3 hours.

9. Types of questions:

In iBT the reading part consists of 3-5 passages, each of 700 words length, with 12-14 questions per passage. The listening part consists of 4-6 lectures (some with classroom discussions), each one containing 6 questions as well as of 2-3 conversations, which contain 5 questions each. The speaking consists of 6 tasks including 2 tasks to express your opinion on a familiar topic and 4 tasks based on what is read and heard. The writing part consists of 2 tasks: 1 task based on what is read and heard and one task to support an opinion on a topic.

In PBT the reading comprehension consists of 5 passages, of 250 to 350 words each and 10 questions per passage. The listening part consists of 3-4 mini-talks, each on containing 3-5 questions. The writing part has one task (test of written English) and the structure (grammar) consists of 40 questions in total.

10. Sample activities: Sample activities are given for both types of TOEFL tests.

By accepting terms and conditions, candidates are able to download free TOEFL iBT sample questions in order to review the types of questions and content and therefore become more familiar with how the test is structured. Visiting the following link, candidates will be able to review examples of conversations, lectures, reading passages, writing samples, spoken responses and more. They will also be able to answer questions and check their answers. However, they will not receive a score on these sample sections.

http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.1488512ecfd5b8849a77b13bc3921509/?vgnextoid=00c534d0459c9110VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&vgnextchannel=ab16197a484f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD

C The positive aspect of taking the iBT practice is that it gives candidates the chance to listen to actual conversations and therefore practice as in real situation.

Additionally, EST also provides test takers with disabilities the same sample activities as above, found in the following link:

http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/TOEFL/pdf/SampleQuestions.doc

Anyone needing further practice on the TOEFL iBT could also order extra material online for 44.95 dollars under the following link:

http://toeflpractice.ets.org/

Below are given sample activities for those, who are taking the TOEFL PBT. • A practice passage on the reading comprehension could be found on the following link: http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.1488512ecfd5b8849a77b13bc3921509/?vgnextoid=f3a8af5e44df4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&vgnextchannel=a883197a484f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD

• Practice questions, sample conversation and practice talk on the listening comprehension are below:

http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.1488512ecfd5b8849a77b13bc3921509/?vgnextoid=fd98af5e44df4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&vgnextchannel=a883197a484f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD

DThe negative aspect of this part is that the sample activities are written rather than given as a listening comprehension, a fact that I find at least not helpful to the candidates.

• Practice questions on structure and written expression are given in the following URL:

http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.1488512ecfd5b8849a77b13bc3921509/?vgnextoid=f5a8af5e44df4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&vgnextchannel=a883197a484f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD

CThe positive aspect of these sample activities is that the candidates can also check their answer from the answer keys given at the end of each section. Apart from that, they can read the tips given for success as well as go through the instructions on how to mark their answers on the answer sheet, something that unfortunately some students tend to do it wrongly!

11. Opinion

This task has given me the opportunity to review a well-known and, in my opinion, one of the most important tests that give students the chance to access a university in an English speaking country. It is mainly a well-structured and well-formed test as it examines all four language skills. However, I believe that regardless of the possible negative aspects of the test, students are somehow obliged to take it if they want to ensure a place at one of the universities, where the specific test is one of the entry requirements! J


Tool 3 Description

ANDRIA

Title: Quick Placement Test

This test was created by the Oxford University. The Quick placement test is provided only in English and it is an electronic placement test for learners of English, produced in association with the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (formerly UCLES). It is a quick way to test students' level of English. It is ideal for placing students in classes at the right level as well as for examination screening.

The computer presents a question and then assesses the student's response as right or wrong. As students progress through the test, the questions are automatically adapted to their ability until a consistent level is identified. Learners of English who need to be grouped at the beginning of a term or course should take it.

One can take it online or in the pen and paper version, which includes all the CD-ROM question types except for the Listening. Results are presented in terms of the ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) Framework, which relates the different language examinations taken across Europe to each other and to a common descriptive system.

The test contains 5 questions. On-screen help is available for each type of task, and a progress marker shows how much of the task is left. The test is easy to manage with on-screen instructions available in Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian, or Portuguese, and with Japanese in spoken form only. It also includes a booklet with guidelines for assessing speaking and writing skills.

The test can be completed in approximately 15-20 minutes. Students answer five types of questions to test listening, reading, and grammar: in the first one they have to listen to a short passage and then choose the best answer, in the second one they have to look at the picture and choose the best answer, in the third one they again have to listen to a short passage and choose the best answer, in the fourth one they have to click on each gap of the text where a choice of words will appear and then click on the correct word and finally in the fifth one they have to read the question and then choose the best answer.

To see some sample activities of the Quick Placement Test click here:

external image msword.png
external image msword.png
Quick Placement Test Sample Activities.doc

In my point of view, the Quick Placement Test is very useful for teachers who need a quick way to group their students in the beginning of a term or a course. The test can help the teachers to assess the students according to their knowledge of English and place them in the right level. I also believe that the content of the test is of good quality and that the multiple-choice questions are likeable to the students and they can provide clear-cut answers.



Tool 4 Description

BERIA



TOEIC:

Test of English for International Communication,

Publisher:

Trademark of the Educational Testing Service 2003-2009

Subject area:

Using English in a daily business situations with subjects covering corporate development, finance and budgeting, corporate property, IT, manufacturing, purchasing, offices, personnel, technical matters, health and business travel

Author:

English-test.net

Electronic Adress:

http://www.english-test.net/toeic/

Test overview:

The TOEIC is mainly to help individuals focus on the elements and the language use of English business vocabulary words. There are vast areas that are covered in taking these tests that will help people improve vocabulary and language use in a variety of areas of the business world, for instance; corporate development, finance and budgeting, corporate property, IT, manufacturing, purchasing, offices, personnel, technical matters, health and business travel. The test aims to help individuals learn and express particular idioms, phrases, English Grammar structures for daily base usage that will benefit them in their communication skills and language with other individuals. It’s not a test that aims to bombard individuals with all the English Language learning taught in class, rather, it aims to teach and provide areas of the English Language that will help and provide individuals to focus on the main areas of vocabulary and words that will be mainly used in their business and daily environment.

The TOEIC test are available at any time and have a variety of questions that individuals can easily answer and progress via learning the meanings of particular vocabulary words and also take other meaningful tests that are acquired for their progression in the English Language. There are a total of 684 tests included throughout the website with the amount of 3420 new vocabulary words that can be learnt via taking such tests.

The individuals that would mainly benefit from such tests are those individuals who understand and apply the English Language, however, want to improve and develop their English Vocabulary skills that they can use more on a daily basis. For instance, it is a guidance that can help individuals in their preparation for their career of even for a company that one owns or is working for.

The test are easily accessible on the internet in a link formatted way, with a variety of test that can be answered that benefits to an individuals own needs and wants from such a test orientated website. It is only a website away (www.English-test.net/toeic) and can be constantly revised at any time or any day that suits the user.

Test Content:

The tests are in a multiple choice manner with definitions where the user who is taking the test must try to find the word that is most affiliated to the definition given. After all questions are answered the user can review the correct and incorrect answers given and learn from the incorrect answers given.

Duration:

The test is a very short time consuming exercise that could be taken from minimum 5 minutes to maximum 10 minutes if trouble comes a user’s way while trying to answer the questions. The beneficial areas of such short tests enables users to not feel drained or warned down by continuously answering questions, also, it’s more beneficial to take questions that are not too long because whatever the questions that are incorrectly answered can be revised more easily.

Types of Questions:

It contains 684 TOEIC vocabulary tests and 100 TOEIC grammar tests, where users can also get 3.420 TOEIC Words as Flash cards and TOEIC Vocabulary word list in alphabetical order. Therefore, there is a variety of areas that can be used and taken for the benefits of what the user is aiming to achieve via taking such tests, they are not limited to only one variety, however, have areas of vocabulary, grammar and even enjoyable flash card techniques that make the tests more enjoyable and motivational.

Sample Activities:

The sample test below will give a basic idea of what the test actually asks off users and what types of questions they shall expect while preparing for taking such exercises and activities.

The test occupies such questions that are in reference to Adjective, Adverb, and Nouns.

http://www.english-test.net/toeic/vocabulary/words/015/toeic-test.php

Another sample activity, aims to help individuals improve their Noun and Verb vocabulary skills and be aware of the differences between the two.

http://www.english-test.net/toeic/vocabulary/words/010/toeic-test.php

As evident in the above sample exercises, all tests are totally different from one another to suit the best interests of those who are trying to improve and develop their English Language skills

Opinion:

In my own opinion, these particular tests are very beneficial for individuals who are trying to use vaster and more formally appropriate vocabulary words in their daily communication with business men and women. The tests are very easy to access and have great examples that can easily help individuals acquire such areas of vocabulary much more beneficial than what an individual can find in the dictionary.

Not only can individuals access the internet online, however, there are great packages that are given to individuals who want to work on the questions continuously or even if they don’t have the internet at home can buy the package for a cheaper price and acquire it in their own time and pleasure.

I think that the idea of such a program will do a great deal of improvement for those individuals who haven’t the time to go to school or to an English course and at the same time can learn a much more greater deal than what classes can do for individuals.



Comparison



Comparison between NEPTON & TOIEC:



While comparing and contrasting the NEPTON test with the TOIEC test there are various amount of differences to each other. The NEPTON test aids to place students in a particular level that will best suit their necessities while studying a course in their University years, however, the TOIEC test enables an individual’s own approach to develop and improve their vocabulary and grammar skills while learning the English Language. Both these tests aid in English development, however, there are still very vast differences between the two. As evaluated above, the NEPTON is only available to prospective University students of the University of Nicosia and can only be taken in the University of Nicosia as a method of helping students occupy a better learning environment while taking their courses, however, the TOIEC test can be available to individuals all over the world and of all ages. It’s only for individuals to improve their own development and can apply and use the test in their own time and place, which they can at the same time order the package where they can use in a collaborative manner.



As mentioned before, feedback is one of the major factors that must be taken into account. TOIEC fulfils this factor as it automatically gives you feedback on your progress. Although both, NEPTON and TOIEC, are automatically corrected and marked by the computer, the NEPTON test does not provide you with feedback. This is because of NEPTON’s purpose and for the reason that it was created not for helping students improve their English skills but for the purpose of identifying students’ level of English so that they can be placed in the appropriate level and support their academic studies. Therefore, even though both tools share some similarities, they cannot be used for the same purpose.



To further elaborate on the evaluation of the two tests, the TOIEC is done in a multiple choice questions answer method, however, the NEPTON is given in a variety of question based themes, for instance; a multiple choice, fill in the gaps, essay writing and short answers. Therefore, between the two tests it has to be stated that both tests are an emphasis of the English Language, however, they have totally different aims in implementing such tests.


Comparison of the Quick Placement Test and the TOEFL Test



Although the two tests have similarities they also have many differences in structure. The Quick placement test is a quick way to test students' level of English. It is ideal for placing students in classes at the right level as well as for examination screening whereas the TOEFL Test is a test which gives students the chance to apply to a university or a college in an English-speaking country. Therefore the two tests are of a different level.



The Quick placement test can be completed in approximately 15-20 minutes. Students answer five types of questions to test listening, reading, and grammar: in the first one they have to listen to a short passage and then choose the best answer, in the second one they have to look at the picture and choose the best answer, in the third one they again have to listen to a short passage and choose the best answer, in the fourth one they have to click on each gap of the text where a choice of words will appear and then click on the correct word and finally in the fifth one they have to read the question and then choose the best answer. On the contrary, the TOEFL Test can be completed in 4 hours and has different parts which consist of long activities. The reading part consists of 3-5 passages, each of 700 words length, with 12-14 questions per passage. The listening part consists of 4-6 lectures (some with classroom discussions), each one containing 6 questions as well as of 2-3 conversations, which contain 5 questions each. The speaking consists of 6 tasks including 2 tasks to express your opinion on a familiar topic and 4 tasks based on what is read and heard. The writing part consists of 2 tasks: 1 task based on what is read and heard and one task to support an opinion on a topic.



In conclusion, both of the tests are equally important; yet, the TOEFL Test is an entry requirement for Universities whereas the Quick placement test is a way for teachers to assess the students according to their knowledge of English and place them in the right level.


Conclusions


A few years ago teachers did not have all this technology to support them. Today teachers and students are able to use all these tools. Whatever information or tool you need, it can be found on the Internet. Electronic Portfolios, projects, web quests, online tests, rubrics, blogs, multimedia projects and websites have been created to make teachers and students life easier. Each tool was created for a specific level and reason and cannot be used for any puprose. Therefore, the comparison between each tool will not be accurate unless we compare tools that were created for the same purspose. For instance, although NEPTON and TOIEC share a few similarities, it is difficult to compare them as they were desighned for different purposes. As aforementioned both NEPTON as well as TOEFL are designed as universities entrance exams, whereas the Quick Placement Test could be used at any level and TOIEC is used by individuals who would like to improve their knowledge in English in specific areas.

In conclusion, we should not stop learning about new technologies because it is always advancing. And not only, we, the teachers have to keep up with technology but we also have to convince our students to do so too and not only to use technology for fun but also for their benefit. However, all these tools are out there to help us and they should not substitute the teacher. Most importantly, everybody can have access to this technology for free. Just think how much it would cost if we had to pay for it!


References


http://nepton.engine.intercol.edu/

http://www.english-test.net/toeic/

Butler-Pascoe, M.E. & Wiburg, K.M (2003). Technology and Teaching English Language Learners.
Pearson Education, Inc. Chapter 8: Assessment and Second Language Teaching pages 211 to 220:

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