In Dialog: Mapping the field of community interpreting - Community Interpreting Heute pages:77-78
In Dialog Mapping the field of Community Interpreting location:Berlin, Germany date:15-16 November 2013
A summative test at the end of a course is a useful and (very) well-known tool to test the competences of a would-be professional of any kind. However, in the last decades, much has been written on test design and assessment procedures which makes testing less obvious than it seems. When the testing process becomes more difficult like in interpreting (because of the “fleeting” nature of the process), and even more complex when some of the assessors are not at all used to being involved in assessment procedures, we are talking about assessing legal interpreting by means of a faithful role play where the would-be legal interpreter has to act as an interpreter. The lifelike character (of the role play) lies among other things in one of the role players being a (real) legal actor (police officer, a judge or a lawyer). The other role player (the suspect, witness or victim) is a native speaker of the foreign language, mostly a language teacher or trainer.
Recently, the legal interpreting assessment procedure at KU Leuven/Thomas More Antwerp (former Lessius) has been completely reviewed. In our presentation we will discuss and concretely illustrate the following issues:
- The validity of the test i.e. the role play: the test design is of utmost importance and the role play has to be a valid tool to decide on the pass or fail for the future legal interpreter: we will explain how the role plays have been designed to test specific competences.
- The reliability of the test procedure: once the role play has been written, the whole procedure must be prepared and then assessed in a reliable way by the assessors. In this already complex scenario, we are also confronted with extra challenges such as the fact that – due to budgetary constraints– the role players are assessors at the same time. Moreover, at least one of the assessors does not work in a didactical or pedagogical context (the legal actor). Although the second assessor is, in most cases, a language trainer used to doing assessments and specialized in legal terminology and/or with some legal knowledge, this can’t be fully guaranteed (especially for LLD, languages of lesser diffusion).
This means the assessors have to be clearly briefed: we will explain how we deal with this briefing by showing in detail the extensive information assessors receive to fulfill their task properly. After all they have to be able to fairly decide on pass or fail.
Since this procedure has been introduced recently, this is work in progress where the research on the assessment procedure itself is in a starting phase only. Although we cannot yet promise strong and quantitatively powerful results, the basic research question we want to answer is whether the new procedure results in more pass or more fail judgments. Of course, a lot of other research questions