Bristol Conversations in Education - Computer-based Diagnostic Assessment of Young Learners with Automated Feedback – an International Trial

9 October 2019, 12.00 PM - 9 October 2019, 1.00 PM

Tony Clark, Cambridge Assessment English

Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA

This event is part of the School of Education's 'Bristol Conversations in Education' seminar series. These seminars are free and open to the public.

Speaker: Tony Clark, Cambridge Assessment English

An effective diagnostic test can play a key role in the language learning process, allowing specific strengths and weaknesses in students’ linguistic development to be identified and then addressed (Jang, 2012). This paper describes the development of an online diagnostic test by Cambridge Assessment English that assesses English grammatical knowledge at A2 level.  
As most language tests to date have been proficiency or achievement tests, there has been relatively little research done in the field of diagnostic language assessment and there is no real agreement on exactly what it entails (Alderson, 2005; Alderson, Brunfaut, & Harding, 2015; Davies, 1999; Lee, 2015). It was decided to create something based on the learning-oriented assessment framework (Jones & Saville, 2016) and in response to this lack of research in the field of diagnostic testing. Another aim was to trial a faster, more iterative way of working to better respond to the continuous rapid changes in technology by producing an initial prototype to trial which we could later improve based on the trial results.
Aimed at learners of approximately 15 years old, the test provides detailed diagnostic feedback on seven grammar categories at both individual and class levels, aiming to improve curriculum and lesson planning and accommodate students’ learning needs. The test was trialled internationally and surveys and focus groups were designed to investigate student and teacher perspectives. As well as discussing the results of the trial, the paper also outlines planned modifications for the next version of the Diagnostic Grammar Test and the implications of this research for wider pedagogical practice.


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Emma Rossiter


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