Language Assessment Literacy Symposium 2016 location:Lancaster University date:16-17 September 2016
This presentation explores how guided peer-development of test-specifications (Davidson & Lynch, 2002; Davidson, 2012) presents a concrete, accessible, and fast route for enhancing language assessment literacy among foreign language lecturers in Cuba. Recent political evolutions in the country have raised the demand for the assessment and certification of English language proficiency in particular. These calls have revealed an urgent need for local capacity building in a country where language testing still has to be recognized as a professional field in its own right (Van Maele, Rodríguez González, Díaz Moreno, van Splunder & Baten, 2015). To address this need, the authors recently delivered a weeklong workshop for 30 teachers from Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba with the support of an ILTA Workshop Award and the IUC-UO project of the Flemish Interuniversity Council.
In this presentation the authors discuss findings with respect to the process, the reception, and the effectiveness of the training. Supportive evidence was collected through daily feedback questionnaires, recordings of group exercises, and the produced test-specs. Although participants were enthusiastic about this novel approach, they also appeared to encounter difficulties to which they responded with a range of coping strategies. It was also observed that, despite irregular attendance, knowledge was distributed within teams, allowing for adequate realization of the workshop objectives at team level.
This workshop provides additional support for using test-specs as a pivotal theme in language assessment literacy training. Contributing factors are the fact that test-specs engage all learners - including novices - in concrete tasks; that these tasks naturally lead to a discussion of the core issues of a validation argument; and that the produced output is of immediate use in language assessment practice. Finally, the authors assess the workshop’s impact as the Cuban teachers continue to receive counseling on test-specs and item writing.