Authenticity is the key theme of a series of research papers on OET recently published by renowned language test researcher, Catherine Elder and her research collaborators.
Authenticity in language testing is concerned with how closely a language test is linked to the setting where the skills will be used. A total of eight research papers have been published as part of a special issue of The Journal of Language Testing covering four years of research into OET, which will be used to inform future test modernisation.
Investigated what health professionals consider to be important for effective communication in the workplace, with the aim of informing decisions about OET’s authenticity and better aligning the current test criteria with the health professional perspective.
Entailed a review of the OET speaking test criteria based on the findings of Phase 1, and some recommended additions to the current criteria were proposed. Speaking test assessors were then trained to rate archived speaking tests using the new criteria. An analysis showed that the assessors could use the new criteria both confidently and consistently.
Looked at how health experts could become more involved in the process of setting minimum standards on the OET speaking test. A group of health professionals was convened to listen to pre-scored speech samples from the OET, and to indicate what level of performance they considered adequate for safe practice and the basis for their decision. Involving health professionals in this process is an important step in better aligning the test to the setting in which communication occurs.
The research in Phases 1-3 formed part of an Australian Research Council Linkage Project and a further two pieces of inter-related research are included in the series of papers. Catherine Elder gives an account of the research in an interview with Glenn Fulcher, former co-editor of Language Testing, in this podcast and the full papers can be viewed in the April edition of Language Testing.