An exploration into what promotes or hinders beneficial English test washback on teaching and learning.

Doctorate other than PhD


Murray, Martin. 2013. An exploration into what promotes or hinders beneficial English test washback on teaching and learning. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Education. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

An exploration into what promotes or hinders beneficial English test washback on teaching and learning.

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
Authors
AuthorMurray, Martin
SupervisorO'Neill, Professor Shirely
Park, Dr Sang-Soon
Young, Dr Kathryn
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Education
Number of Pages352
Year2013
Abstract

Ethical English language testing requires an ongoing effort to improve the quality of English test item design. It also requires the identification of what factors might encourage or obstruct positive washback and impact. The advantages and disadvantages of summative high-stakes English tests compared to feasible alternative forms of assessment should also be considered. For instance, an evaluative review of this research suggests the greater appropriateness of multiple medium-stakes formative English assessments over high-stakes summative English tests for students at the case study school. This case study explores the washback phenomenon and related impact phenomenon at one CMI (Chinese Medium of Instruction) secondary school in Hong Kong in order to find out what promotes or hinders beneficial English test washback and impact on teaching and learning at this
school and includes a comparison between a new and a long established high-stakes English test. Another focus of this research is the lower academic performance and lower English language proficiency levels of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. A total of 256 student participants completed questionnaires; 147 student participants took part in group interviews; and 7 teacher participants took part in individual interviews. A total of 23 lesson observations occurred as well as one English SBA (School-based Assessment) assessing session and one group tutorial. Key findings include a crucial need for English teachers who prepare students for high-stakes English tests to be aware of what pedagogical practices will maximise their students’ chances of success in what can be a very stressful and even traumatic experience. Some examples of detrimental washback and
impact were identified including some instances of narrowing of the curriculum and some instances of an increased focus on lower order cognitive skills such as rote learning and memorisation. Examples of beneficial washback and impact were identified including some instances of a wide variety of English learning experiences being encouraged and much enhanced both by English teachers who knew how to scaffold their students’ use of lower and higher order cognitive skills in ways that encouraged a creative use of English and English SBA (School-based Assessment). Finally, English SBA (School-based Assessment) was found to be a much sharper tool and to have a more immediate ability to enhance the quality of English teaching and the learning experiences of students by more actively engaging students in the learning process than high-stakes English tests.

KeywordsCMI; EFL; high-stakes tests; impact; measurement-driven instruction; washback, English,
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390399. Education systems not elsewhere classified
390114. Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy
390499. Specialist studies in education not elsewhere classified
399999. Other education not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Education
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