Language Assessment Courses Taught in the Applied Linguistics and Technology Program
Students interested in language assessment also take courses from other departments on campus including statistics and courses in the program in quantitative psychology.
ENGL 519 Second Language Assessment
This course is an introduction to current issues in language assessment. Students learn about key concepts in language assessment, including, construct validity, reliability, authenticity, washback, and ethics. They also gain experience in critiquing and creating various types of test tasks, including selected response item types like multiple-choice and true-false as well as constructed response item types such as summary writing tasks and group oral discussion speaking tasks. Students will learn how to use classical test theory statistics to analyze the psychometric strengths and weaknesses of assessment instruments. Procedures for analyzing both norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests will be covered. Students will use both Excel and SPSS to complete these analyses.
ENGL 626 Technology and Language Assessment
This seminar covers principles and practice for the use and study of technology in second language assessment by 1) reviewing relevant work in technology and assessment, 2) examining students’ interests in the technology-language assessment connection, and 3) investigating new technology-based language assessments and research. The course will socialize students into research and practice in this area through reading and discussion as well as through creation of their own pilot study assessment projects based on their plans for future research. Students will be required to present, summarize and critique published articles; write a proposal for a pilot study on assessment; carry out their pilot study; and present the results orally and in writing.
ENGL 630 Seminars in Technology and Applied Linguistics: Development of Language Assessments
This course provides students with training on how to develop a language assessment. Students are introduced to a number of task formats, including multiple-choice, matching, true/false, short answer, oral interview group discussion, summary, and email. Students areintroduced to various types of rating scales, including analytic and holistic. Test development frameworks, including Mislevy’s Evidence-centered design, Davidson and Lynch’s Test Specification approach, and Bachman and Palmer’s Test task characteristics approach will be discussed. Students will use one of these frameworks to guide the development of their own assessment instrument. The design and development of surveys will also be covered from the point of view that surveys are a type of assessment instrument.
ENGL 630 Seminars in Technology and Applied Linguistics: Psychometric Methods for Language Testing
The course focuses on advanced measurement techniques for language assessment researchers/Applied linguists. Major topics covered are applications of generalizability theory and item response theory, including Many facet Rasch measurement and binary IRT models, and IRT differential item functioning techniques. Emphasis is on the use of quantitative techniques for analyzing tests with computer software. While some discussion of the statistics and math which underlie the techniques will be included in the course, the emphasis will be on test/research design, applications, and interpretations. Students use computer software packages, which include SPSS, IRT PRO, and FACETS.
ENGL 630 Seminars in Technology and Applied Linguistics: Validation of Language Assessments
Everyone would agree that language tests should be valid, but how one goes about establishing validity is a complex issue. Validity in educational measurement and language testing is “an overall evaluative judgment of the degree to which evidence and theoretical rationale support the adequacy and appropriateness of interpretations and actions based on test scores” (Messick, 1989, p. 13). In this course we will explore how a test developer or testing researcher can develop an argument that will allow prospective test users to make such a judgment. Drawing upon the research and practice in language testing and educational measurement, we will study examples of how validation research is conceptualized and conducted as well as how results are interpreted and used to support a validity argument. We will study the modern history of validation principles up to the most recent developments as represented by Kane’s (2006) presentation of interpretive arguments and validity arguments as well as Bachman and Palmer’s (2010) assessment use arguments. Students will be required to contribute to the class through their presentation of research papers and technical manuals reporting validation studies as well as their development of an interpretive argument and research plan for a language test that they are interested in.
ENGL 630 Seminars in Technology and Applied Linguistics: Advanced Quantitative Methods for Applied Linguistics
This course aims to provide applied linguists with the advanced quantitative methods they need to critique studies which employ such approaches as well as to carry out their own research with the techniques. The course is designed to satisfy the needs of both language assessment researchers and other applied linguists, who are interested in advanced quantitative methods. The major statistical techniques covered in the course will be exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modeling, with a major focus on confirmatory factor analysis. The focus of the course will be on the application of these techniques, not the math that underlies them. Students will use SPSS as well as one of the advanced SEM software packages such as Amos or EQS to complete their analyses.