Plenaries and Speakers

Plenaries and Speakers

Professor Antony John Kunnan is Professor of English at the University of Macau who specializes in all aspects of language assessment. Topics he has published on in the last few years include fairness and justice, automated scoring, diagnostic feedback, statistics (factor analysis and structural equation modeling), and languages for specific purposes. His recent publications include Evaluating language assessments (authored work; Routledge, 2017), The Companion to Language Assessment (edited work of 4 volumes; Wiley, 2014) and Language Testing and Assessment (edited work of 4 volumes; Routledge, 2013). He was the founding editor of Language Assessment Quarterly (2003-2013), past president of the International Language Testing Association and founding president of the Asian Association for Language Assessment. Previously, he held professorial positions at universities in Los Angeles, Taichung, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Dr. Ursula Wingate is Senior Lecturer in Language in Education and works in the School of Education, Communication and Society at King’s College London. Ursula’s research interests are in academic literacy, English language policies and practices, and language teaching methodology. In recent projects, Ursula has developed and evaluated various approaches to teaching academic literacy, drawing on the King’s Apprentice Writing Corpus for the creation of instructional resources in different disciplines. Her publications are concerned with various approaches to academic literacy instruction, the impact of formative feedback on academic writing, and the teaching and learning of argumentation. In her recent book ‘Academic Literacy and Student Diversity: The Case for Inclusive Practice’, Ursula promotes a curriculum-integrated collaborative model of academic literacy instruction that is inclusive of students from all backgrounds.

The need for evaluation of language assessments

Speaker: Professor Antony John Kunnan
Date: 30 May 2018
Time: 09:15 – 10:15
Venue: Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Jockey Club Innovation Tower

Abstract:
Assessment literacy papers and workshops have focused on how to make participants understand concepts written as standards for language assessments. One popular set of standards are the ones written by psychological and educational experts and best practices in the field (APA, AERA, NCME, Standards for educational and psychological testing,1999, and 2014). The standards include validity, reliability, generalizability, fairness, norm and criterion-referenced assessment, etc. These standards have provided assessment institutions guidance for their own internal evaluations and research agendas. But, students and young professionals are expected to understand these concepts without guiding principles. More recently, the argument-based approach based on Toulmin’s model (example, Bachman and Palmer, 2010) has offered a systematic approach to evaluation with an examination of an assessment institution’s claims and warrants, and the backing for warrants. But, neither does this approach offer guiding principles. Thus, these two top-down approaches are unlikely to help participants understand key concepts in assessment.

In order to remedy this situation, I propose a series of reflections on hypothetical scenarios to understand the key concepts of assessment knowledge. In this approach, first, a series of scenarios called “The Trolley Problem” (Foot, 1967) from moral philosophy will introduce how to evaluate these scenarios – whether to moral justify actions based on the principle of outcomes or consequentialism or to use the principle of duty or obligation. Second, six scenarios from language assessment on defective tasks, biased tasks, scoring problems, selecting an assessment, differential pricing, and decision-making will be analyzed by applying outcomes-based or duty-based thinking. As these scenarios mirror the common assessment development to assessment decision-making process, applying principles to these scenarios will be quite transparent. Third, participants will formalize their understanding by checking a list of concepts/standards that include different aspects of validity, reliability, and fairness. Therefore, this approach should help participants understand key concepts in language assessment through a bottom-up approach (for more details see, Kunnan’s Evaluating language assessments, Routledge, 2018).

Academic literacy instruction: Towards a collaborative curriculum-integrated approach

Speaker: Dr. Ursula Wingate
Date: 30 May 2018
Time: 17:30 – 18:30
Venue: Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Jockey Club Innovation Tower

Abstract:
All students new to university need to acquire academic literacy, which encompasses reading, evaluating information, as well as communicating through the written and spoken genres used in the academic discipline.  Although it has long been argued that these abilities can only be developed within academic disciplines, explicit academic literacy instruction is rarely offered as part of the curriculum. Over the last decade, there has been a growing number of universities, most notably in Australia, where English for Academic Purposes (EAP) specialists have collaborated with academics to integrate academic language and literacy instruction in the curriculum. However, the related publications do not provide a sufficient account of the instructional methods, underlying theoretical frameworks, and the exact nature of the collaboration. More comprehensive information is needed for managers and practitioners who want to initiate change in universities were curriculum integration of academic literacy instruction does not exist or is resisted.

In this paper, I discuss a series of projects that we carried out at King’s College London with the aim to initiate change from extra-curricular to curriculum-integrated instruction. The projects involved different levels of collaboration with subject lecturers, and the instructional approach was based on genre theory. As these projects were driven by a small number of practitioners and reached only a few academic departments, we took further ‘bottom-up’ initiatives, for instance by including training in academic literacy instruction into staff development programmes, and by training graduate students to support novice students in their disciplines. As a result, practices are gradually changing in several departments. I will present the findings from recorded teaching sessions and student interviews to demonstrate the impact of the instructional methods. I will also discuss various changes in lecturers’ teaching practices that resulted from the staff development initiative. Finally, I will consider the feasibility of these initiatives and their potential to bring about change in other contexts.

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