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Unit information: Language Testing and Assessment in 2015/16

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Unit name Language Testing and Assessment
Unit code EDUCM5907
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Yu
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit develops the skills needed to assess learners systematically, both as an integrated part of class teaching and in more formal tests such as at the end of the course, or for determining level of language proficiency. It explores the issues involved in making judgements about language learning progress and achievement of learners, both in conventional test formats, and in the context of pedagogic interaction in the classroom. In this unit there will be an opportunity to explore specific issues such as fairness in assessment and teachers' decision-making, and the interface between assessment processes and second language learning. These activities will also constitute opportunities to develop skills in critiquing language tests and other procedures - such as teacher assessment from observation of classroom tasks, learner self-assessment and portfolio assessment, in designing assessment procedures and tasks, and in analysing the results from them.


  • To develop awareness of the functions, formats and processes of language testing and assessment;
  • To relate these to professional contexts (such as English for Academic Purposes; Young Learners; Classroom Assessment by teachers), such that development in language testing and assessment can be progressed;
  • To explore how language testing and assessment relate to processes of teaching and learning;
  • To explore how language testing and assessment processes relate to language learning, in the SLA tradition and from socio-cultural perspectives;
  • To explore how language testing and assessment formats derive from descriptions of language forms and functions.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will have developed an understanding of:

  • The different traditions and purposes of language testing and assessment;
  • The factors which underpin validity and ethicality in language testing and assessment practices;
  • The roles of assessment in teaching and programme management;
  • The interface between Second Language Acquisition and language testing and assessment;
  • Emerging issues in language testing and assessment, such as teacher-assessment, self-assessment, computer-based testing and reporting test data.

By the end of this unit, students will have developed skills in:

  • Critiquing language tests and assessment tasks;
  • Designing tests and assessment tasks, and schemes for marking and rating;
  • Analysing and interpreting test data;
  • Critiquing research studies in language testing;
  • Identifying researchable issues in language testing and assessment.

Teaching Information

  • Lecture input
  • Online learning support (Blackboard)
  • Data Projects (online resources, using data from Tutors’ Research Projects)
  • Presentations,
  • Small group work,
  • Seminars or workshops,
  • Action research,
  • Simulations,
  • Individual tutorials and supported self study.

Individualised and supervised studies to include on-line discussion, supervision and directed reading

Assessment Information


A negotiated assignment of 4,000 (or equivalent) exploring professional aspects of Language Testing and Assessment, informed by both current perspectives in the literature, and the development needs of a specific curricular context.


An outline proposal of 4,000 words (or equivalent) for an empirical research study addressing a current theoretical or curricular issue in Language Testing and Assessment. Including a focussed literature review, research questions and procedures for data collection and data analysis.

Reading and References

  • Brown, J.D. (Ed) 1988 New Ways of Classroom Assessment. Arlington, VA: TESOL
  • Hughes, A. (1989) Testing for Language Teachers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • McNamara, T. 1996 Measuring Second Language Performance. Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman
  • O’Malley, J.M. & L. Valdez Pierce 1996 Authentic Assessment for English Language learners. Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman
  • Rea-Dickins, P. (Ed) 2004 Exploring Diversity in Teacher Assessment. Language Testing Vol 21/3 (Special Issue)
  • Weir, C. J. (2004) Language Testing and Validation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan