In the name of construct validity

31 05 2008

In a previous academic life, I constructed and administered reading proficiency tests for primary school students in Flanders. Working with Item Response Theory experts on language assessment was quite the eye-opener: for instance, the work that goes into writing plausible distractors for multiple choice items is painstaking yet crucial if you take student assessment seriously.

On Friday, a number of colleagues organized a one-day conference on language teaching that brought together some 80 applied linguists, language instructors and assessment professionals. One of the poster presentations was a joint effort by the Business English team, comparing pretest and posttest student performance on the Dialang self-assessment test and the course final. The results suggest that 1) ESP training improves students’ writing skills and lexical range and 2) that the Dialang self-assessment test is a reliable predictor for student performance on the final Business English exam in terms of grammar, vocabulary and listening.

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