Testing Reading Comprehension: Problems and Principles
Seminar paper from the year 2005 in the subject English - Pedagogy, Didactics, Literature Studies, grade: 2,0, Dresden Technical University, language: English, abstract: In the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF) the proficiency in understanding texts is one of the main criteria for determining a learner’s language competence. To obtain the level ‘Vantage’ for instance, the language user is supposed to “understand the main ideas of complex text both on concrete and abstract topics”. But what does it mean to understand a text? This question cannot easily be answered, and it is therefore one aim of this paper to provide a definition of the term ‘reading comprehension’. However, knowing what reading comprehension means does not necessarily enable us determine one’s reading competence. What the testing of reading comprehension should look like is still open for discussion. For this reason the paper will examine a number of problems which inevitably arise when measuring reading comprehension. Fields of particular interest are the input material, in other words the text which the reader is supposed to comprehend, basic problems of measuring receptive skills, several testing techniques and the writing of test items. While discussing these problem areas, a number of principles, which should help to construct valid reading comprehension tests, are established too.
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ability to derive background knowledge candidate is supposed candidate’s choosing the right close reading cloze-elide cognitive outcome completion items comprehend a text comprehension processes concerning the skills construct derive the meaning disadvantages effect of guessing false cognates graphic symbols guess the meaning Harmer identify information transfer technique input material limitation concerning low level skills main idea meaning from context measuring reading comprehension measuring receptive skills micro-skills minimise mother tongue multiple choice cloze multiple choice format multiple choice item multiple choice test necessity for comprehending number of skills overall ability paragraph Problem of Measuring productive skills providing reasonable distractors question reader is supposed reading comprehension tests reading processes reading test represent the cognitive right option Robert Troschitz sentences short answer technique skimming syntactical knowledge testing of reading testing reading comprehension testing techniques transformation techniques understand the text unique answer technique unknown words Valette 200 variety of skills word recognition written material