Placement Test: A Creative Way to Learn

Programming an end-of-year project

This odd and unique year is coming to an end -fortunately- and all the teachers require students to complete a final project in order to show the knowledge acquired throughout the year. The 6th year English Advanced class was divided into groups and given the task of creating an original placement test using Scratch, an innovative software that allows users to programme code in an effortless and interactive way. At the beginning, the activity seemed unachievable because of the lack of experience with the unknown website. Hence, how did the students manage to achieve the objective?

Before going to the Scratch software, each group thought about the questions of the placement test, which were shared in a Google Document. There were several types of questions, for example, multiple-choice exercises, adding or re-writing sentences, true or false questions, among others. Not only had the exercises to be written, but it was also necessary to include activities that could be programmed in the Scratch software. This was a challenge because there are limitations when programming.

As the objective was to measure the English skills of whoever takes the test, it caters for different topics and difficulties, ranging from an elementary level, covering the present simple tense and prepositions to more advanced topics, such as conditional sentences and inversion of order. Furthermore, the test was divided into different sections according to the English knowledge.

For the design of this placement test, the students were made to reinforce some areas of the language and apply indispensable soft and team work skills. Pupils customarily prefer activities that allow them to have a margin of freedom, so as to make room for creativity. For this reason, the assignment was perfect to fulfil these expectations and to create an original and unusual test.

Scratch, an outside the box software, allows the user to programme games, videos, and others in an easy-for-all code. Honestly, it is the perfect site to create the exam. The algorithm when programming in this platform is like a chain; in other words, each piece of code is linked to the previous one, making it run smoothly. What is more, this software separates the different codes with a variety of colours based on the function (motion, senses, operators, events, sounds, etc). This way, students should find the coding boxes needed straightforwardly.

The software leaves the door open for creativity: music, animations and movements can be added so as to make the test dynamic. Mechanically speaking, making everything work correctly by using variables, math and logic is a must. Students have been playing with the website a long time before they got acquainted to it and were later able to use it to create the placement test. They started with trial and error coding and watched how the different variables worked until they could link one another making the code work. 

On balance, students were given a task where they could improve their team and English skills by creating a placement test in which they had to include different language topics and vocabulary for several levels. Little did they know the task was as difficult as it turned out to be. As luck would have it, comparing the entry point to the final product it can be concluded that this has been a second-to-none performance, which exceeded the teacher’s expectations.