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Former MSc TESOL student Hyunjin Kim receives Caroline Clapham IELTS Masters Award

23 November 2015

The Graduate School of Education would like to congratulate Hyunjin Kim from the 2013-14 Bristol MSc TESOL intake on winning the prestigious Caroline Clapham IELTS Master's Award, presented annually to the Master's-level dissertation in English "which makes the most significant contribution to the field of language testing." The IELTS Partners will sponsor Hyunjin's trip to the Language Testing Research Colloquium in Palermo Italy in June, 2016, where she will receive the award and a £1000 prize.

Hyunjin's dissertation is entitled Teachers’ voices in the decision to discontinue a public examination reform: Washback effects and implications for teaching and assessing productive skills of English in Korean secondary schools.;

As Dr Talia Isaacs, Hyunjin's supervisor, highlighted in her letter of support, "the examiners’ (dissertation) report highlights the innovative nature of Hyunjin’s study, which documents washback effects of the National English Ability Test (NEAT) - a large-scale, high-cost Korean national project designed to supplement the listening and reading based English section of the current college entrance exam. However, the test was ultimately 'shelved' at the last minute in favour of maintaining the status quo due to political pressures. As a teacher-educator within the community and through accessible text appropriate for readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the Korean educational and assessment context, Hyunjin focused on teachers’ perspectives and reported practices with respect to the assessment of productive skills, the reforms brought about by the introduction of the test, and effects of this knee-jerk reaction to pull the test by the Ministry of Education.

The first line of examiners’ comments in the thesis report reads, 'this is an outstanding dissertation in all respects and represents considerable engagement with the relevant literature, careful attention to methodological detail, well thought out instruments, and a cogent presentation and interpretation of the results.' The mixed methods diagram and breakdown of questionnaire structure by item type and purpose (rationale) are just two examples of careful reporting that pervades the study."

Hyunjin's  achievement will be recognised in a number of ways: on the IELTS website, through British Council and IDP IELTS Australia newsletters, and in a forthcoming issue of Cambridge English Language Assessment’s Research Notes, among other venues. Thus, Hyunjin's timely work documenting Korean teachers' reaction to discontinuing NEAT will be widely disseminated.

Further information

GSoE MSc TESOL programme

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