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Unit information: Testing and Assessment in Language Learning in 2018/19

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Unit name Testing and Assessment in Language Learning
Unit code EDUCD0099
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Yu
Open unit status Not open

Understanding Educational Research


Language and Communication, Researching Language Classrooms, Testing and Assessment in Language Learning

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


This unit provides an overview of current developments in theories and practices of language testing and assessment. We explore approaches and the processes of language test construction and validation as well as classroom-based assessment, and review current developments in the field through consideration of the principles underlying best practice in language testing and assessment. We focus on the development and validation of tests and other procedures used to assess the language development, achievement and proficiency of speakers of English as a foreign or additional language, and the research methods relevant to these tasks. Indicative content areas include language assessment as socially situated practice, assessment for learning, the Common European Framework of Reference, assessment of different language skills (e.g., the development and validation of rating scales, integrated writing tasks, observation driven approaches to classroom/teacher assessment, self-/peer-assessment), washback, and power, and ethics and fairness in language testing as social practice.


The unit will provide students with the opportunity:

  • to access and critique recent major developments in the field of language testing and assessment
  • to understand conceptual and methodological aspects of test development and validation processes and procedures
  • to understand test impact and ethicality and fairness issues in language testing.
  • to adopt a critical orientation (through illustrative case studies) to the interpretation of a range of language testing procedures and assessment practices and to the relevance of these for their professional practice

Intended learning outcomes

By participating in this unit, students will understand

  • the theoretical bases of language test validation and assessment;
  • the principles which underpin good assessment practice;
  • the potential of assessment for language development;
  • current and emerging of trends in language testing research.

Teaching details

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Blackboard online support

Assessment Details

There are two options, each of 4,000 words. Students will either:

Critically analyse a published testing and assessment study, with reference to relevant theoretical / conceptual frameworks, the methods, the claims and findings of the research.


Outline a proposal for an empirical research study addressing a current theoretical or curricular issue in language testing and assessment, which includes a focussed literature review, research questions and procedures for data collection and data analysis.

Reading and References

  • Alderson, J. C., Clapham, C., & Wall, D. (1995). Language test construction and evaluation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bachman, L. F. (1990). Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bachman, L. F., & Palmer, A. S. (1996). Language testing in practice: Designing and developing useful language tests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fulcher, G., & Davidson, F. (2007). Language testing and assessment: An advanced resource book. London: Routledge.
  • Weir, C. J. (2005). Language testing and validation: An evidence-based approach. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.