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Promoting positive washforward through personalised test feedback and other benefits: Piloting a computer-based testing system

Elena A. M. Gandini

Elena A. M. Gandini is an EFL/ESOL lecturer at UCLan (UK), teaching on EFL and EAP courses, contributing to test development as a member of the language testing team and working on pre-service teacher training intensive courses. She has previously worked as a language teacher and teacher trainer in Italy, Austria and Germany. Her research interests are in the area of language testing and assessment, multilingualism and material development.

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and Tania Horák

Dr. Tania Horák is a senior lecturer at UCLan (UK) teaching on EFL teacher training programmes. She is currently course leader of MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. She has previously worked in the field of English Language teaching in the Czech Republic, Bangladesh, Lithuania, Hong Kong and Germany. Her research interests lie in foreign language testing and assessment, above all washback, impact and social consequences of assessment.

Abstract

This contribution reports on the developing and piloting of a computer-based version of the test of English as a foreign language produced by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), where it is currently used for the admission of international students and the subsequent evaluation of their language progress. Among other benefits, computer-based testing allows for better and individualised feedback to both teachers and students, and it can provide a more authentic test experience in light of the current digital shift that UK universities are undergoing. In particular, the qualitative improvement in the feedback available for test-takers and teachers was for us a crucial factor. Providing students with personalised feedback, that is, directly linked to their performance, has positive washforward, because it means we can guide their future learning, highlighting the areas they need to work on to improve their language skills and giving them suggestions on how to succeed in academia. Furthermore, explaining the meaning of test results in detail improves transparency and ultimately washback, as teachers can use the more accessible marking criteria, together with information on how their students performed, to review plans and schemes of work for subsequent courses.


Corresponding author: Elena A. M. Gandini, School of Humanities, Language and Global Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK, E-mail:

About the authors

Elena A. M. Gandini

Elena A. M. Gandini is an EFL/ESOL lecturer at UCLan (UK), teaching on EFL and EAP courses, contributing to test development as a member of the language testing team and working on pre-service teacher training intensive courses. She has previously worked as a language teacher and teacher trainer in Italy, Austria and Germany. Her research interests are in the area of language testing and assessment, multilingualism and material development.

Tania Horák

Dr. Tania Horák is a senior lecturer at UCLan (UK) teaching on EFL teacher training programmes. She is currently course leader of MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. She has previously worked in the field of English Language teaching in the Czech Republic, Bangladesh, Lithuania, Hong Kong and Germany. Her research interests lie in foreign language testing and assessment, above all washback, impact and social consequences of assessment.

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Published Online: 2020-09-19
Published in Print: 2020-07-31

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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