Josh: So, are we going to take the TOPIK test in 2017?
Friend: Why? I am not going to pass, so why even try?
Josh: Seriously? You think I am taking this test to pass? Hell no! I am taking this test to give myself some accountability. I am taking this test so I am committed to something.
Friend: Oh yeah, I never thought of that. Maybe I will do the test. When is it?
As you can probably guess – today’s post is all about the topic of ownership and accountability. Or, more specifically, the role tests can play in helping students develop a sense of ownership and accountability.
Using tests to encourage students to take ownership and be accountable.
All too often teachers use tests in the traditional way (i.e. to evaluate, rate, or diagnose one’s language ability) and forget about the power of using tests to motivate, inspire, and challenge students.
Personally, I believe that having a firm commitment to do or achieve something helps me become more accountable. It helps me take ownership. When I commit to something (such as the TOPIK test) I feel like I am now responsible for passing the test (or at least doing my best). I feel like I am now in charge of my own destiny. I must take the lead in making sure I do what is needed to prepare for this exam or fall flat on my face.
Just by committing to something I have now become accountable to not only my teacher, but to myself. After all, I have decided to do this test – this means I must take ownership and be accountable.
Before signing off I would like to say that this approach is not for everybody. Just hearing the word ‘test’ is enough for some students to run for the hills. Therefore, I have provided a set of guidelines for you to consider before using tests to motivate your learners.
Using tests to increase ownership and accountability in second language learning – a guide!
1. There are two main rules when taking the test. First, the student should try their best. Second, the student should be responsible for planning and implementing their own out-of-class study plans (a perfect chance for teachers to help their students develop this necessary skill).
2. The student (or class as a whole) should choose which test they wish to take (e.g. TOEIC, IELTS, TOEFL, etc.)
3. The student needs to be encouraged (and supported) to take responsibility for their own learning actions while preparing for the test. (The teacher can take this opportunity to help their students develop a sense of ownership.)
4. The student should (if it suits their personality and learning style) have a ‘test buddy’ who is also committed to this activity (this adds another level of accountability).
5. The result of the test should be of no consequence (as this activity is aimed at developing a sense of accountability). No one needs to reveal their results to the teacher, the class, or their ‘test buddy’.
6. The teacher should be available to give feedback and advice both before and after the exam has taken place.
7. Due to the maturity levels required to understand the importance of accountability and ownership this activity is probably best suited to adults and late teens.
I hope this activity helps you and your students.
Thanks for reading.
Keep English Real!