Expanding the construct of second language assessments

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Please note this project is no longer accepting applications

This joint PhD project will be based at The University of Melbourne with a minimum 12-month stay at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Project description

One of the key aspects to be considered in language assessments is the ‘assessment construct’ itself, used to define the knowledge, skills, or abilities that are to be assessed.

A clearly defined construct is the first step in making claims about the meaning of test scores and the inferences we draw about test-takers based on these scores.

The aim of the research project based at the University of Melbourne will be to expand the construct of second language assessments to ensure the assessments more closely mirror the demands faced by test-takers in a real-world setting.

Applicants may choose to focus on any second language assessment context (e.g., language assessments for academic purposes or for professional purposes) and propose a study that aims to expand the construct that is measured by such assessments.

This can be done by, for example, conducting a domain analysis, proposing innovative assessment tasks, broadening the assessment criteria used in an assessment, or other means. The project may interrogate any of the dimensions of assessment ‘constructs’ proposed by Knoch and Macqueen (2020).

The proposed project will draw on innovative or mixed methods methodologies to answer the research questions and will be situated within a firm theoretical framework.

Depending on the focus of the project, the PhD candidate may be able to collect data during their year in Shanghai. Both supervisory teams will work closely to ensure that the scope of the project is appropriate and that the project makes the most of the opportunities provided by the institutions and contexts.

This project will be complemented by the project on ‘Conceptualizing and operationalizing the construct of critical thinking in speaking assessments of English as a foreign language’ and the collaboration will ensure the successful completion of both projects.

Project goals

The objectives of this project are:

  • Expand the construct of second language assessments to ensure the assessments more closely mirror the demands faced by test-takers in a real-world setting.
  • Interrogate any of the dimensions of assessment ‘constructs’ proposed by Knoch and Macqueen (2020).
  • Develop a theoretical framework and use innovative or mixed methods methodologies to answer the research questions

Supervision team

Associate Professor Ute Knoch (The University of Melbourne)

Professor Yan Jin (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

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Who we are looking for

We are seeking a PhD candidate with the following skills:

  • Demonstrated experience in the field of applied linguistics and/or second/foreign language assessment
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of the team
  • Demonstrated time and project management skills
  • Demonstrated ability to write research reports or other publications to a publishable standard (even if not published to date)

Further details

The PhD candidate will benefit from the combined expertise of the project supervisors, and the embedding into two research environments.

Associate Professor Ute Knoch at the University of Melbourne will contribute expertise in test validation, scoring methodologies, assessment of languages for specific purposes. Professor Yan Jin at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University will contribute expertise in large-scale language assessment, test validation, technology in language assessment

The candidate will be enrolled in the PhD program at the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne and in the PhD program at the School of Foreign Languages at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Please note this project is no longer accepting applications.

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