Dark alleys and blind bends: testing the language of learning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents a revised version of the author's Samuel Messick Memorial lecture in 2003. Messick's emphasis on consequential validity is used to identify some of the negative effects of current practices as they affect the quality of students' learning and motivation. It suggests that there have been many 'dark alleys' in which poorly understood assessment technologies have been used thoughtlessly or have been located on 'blind bends' in which a lack of sufficient preparation and knowledge has resulted in assessment practices that are dangerous and, potentially, very damaging to learners. In the light of these problems the article argues for a more constructive approach to assessment. Taking the particular context of language learning, the article describes a new assessment tool, The Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI), which has a very different purpose: the identification of an individual's power to learn. It argues the need to replace the conventional lexicon of testing with a focus on key learning dimensions such as confidence, collaboration, critical curiosity and creativity – the feelings and dispositions that are argued to be central to learning.
Translated title of the contributionDark alleys and blind bends: testing the language of learning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123 - 141
Number of pages19
JournalLanguage Testing
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Hodder Arnold


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