Expanding the construct of second language assessments

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 which defines 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 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, language assessments 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 want to 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 student 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.

The 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 a successful completion of the project.

Supervision team:

Associate Professor Ute Knoch (The University of Melbourne)

Professor Yan Jin (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

How to apply