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The Power and Impact of Standardised Tests

Investigating the Washback of Language Exams in Greece

Lambrini Loumbourdi

Standardised tests and language certification exams have been a popular topic in the field of assessment for many years now. The washback effect of such tests, that is how and to which degree language tests influence teaching and learning, has been the focus of several research projects in various contexts with different results, but at the same time of significant importance. Investigating the impact and consequences of tests is a great step towards creating better and fairer tests. This book focuses on a research study of the washback effect of the FCE test (First Certificate in English), developed and administered by Cambridge English Language Assessment (formerly ESOL). The context of the study is Greece, where unique socioeconomic elements and characteristics have rendered language certification increasingly important and have significantly contributed to the quality and quantity of the washback effect produced.
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Chapter 4 Discussion

← 76 | 77 → Chapter 4 Discussion


In order to investigate the quality and quantity of the washback effect produced during preparation and after the administration of the FCE test, questionnaires were filled out by students and teachers with a view to examining their perceptions of the test and attitudes towards teaching and learning. Furthermore, classroom observations were conducted to also explore what goes on in the classroom when students are prepared for the exams. The data from the questionnaires administered and the classroom observation was abundant. The results will be presented in tables, graphs, in raw frequencies or in percentages and finally with specific reference to information further analysed. For reasons of economy some results will be discussed within categories, in a more generalised manner. The issue under investigation will be associated with the data and the evidence produced by the answers in the questionnaires and the classroom observation will be put into different categories, according to the general topic they belong to.

Table 5: List of abbreviations

As previously mentioned, 150 students were surveyed with the use of questionnaires administered twice, before and after the exams. The content of the questionnaire was different, in order to explore the washback effect, in terms of its quality, positive or negative, its stage of appearance, pre- or post-test, its accumulative aspect and certain other characteristics that would help analyse it better. There were some similar questions in both questionnaires, aiming at comparing potential ← 77 | 78 → changes in perceptions and attitudes. The results collected from...

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