10:15AM – 10:45AM Ramphal Lecture Theatre 1
Assessing Comprehension Ability
In attempting to understand what is involved in the process of comprehension, researchers over the years have proposed and developed various theories and models of comprehension. The prevailing orthodoxy has changed from bottom-up theories, to top-down and finally to an interactive view of comprehension. At the heart of the different theories and models is the interaction of the readers/listeners' conceptual abilities and process strategies, their linguistic knowledge and their content knowledge.
Drawing on the work of researchers in the fields of cognitive psychology and language assessment (e.g. Goodman 1967, Kintsch and van Dijk 1978, Rosenshine 1980, Perfetti 1999, Field, 2004, Grabe 2004, Cohen and Upton 2006), I will start the presentation by providing an overview of how theories of comprehension have evolved since the 1960s and how they have impacted on language teaching and assessment. I will next propose a framework of processing levels that aims to assist test developers in establishing the cognitive validity of their L2 reading tests at the different levels in the Common European Framework of Reference (Council of Europe, 2001). I will then apply the model to Cambridge ESOL Main Suite examinations, i.e., KET, PET, FCE, CAE, and CPE, to show how the reading processes may differ from CEFR levels A2 to C2 within an assessment context. I will conclude by giving practical advice on writing reading and listening test items.
Hanan Khalifa, MA, PhD in Language Testing (Reading University, UK)
For the last twenty years, Dr Khalifa has been involved in managing and implementing teaching, training, testing and evaluation-related projects within an academic context and with international development agencies. From 1998-2003, she led test reform in the Egyptian Ministry of Education with the strategic objective of improving the quality of English language assessment nationally. As such, she fostered effective collaborative relationships and joint planning between all institutions concerned with educational assessment and evaluation, set test reform standards, and influenced test specifications. She created the first trained cadre of language testers at the state school level. Under her leadership, the cadre developed low and high stakes tests and through using a cascading model they transferred their gained knowledge, thus impacting on a total of 12,000 teachers nationwide. Projects activities included managing knowledge transfer to governmental institutions, developing sustainability plans, training staff on assessment and capacity building in monitoring and evaluation.
In 2003, Hanan joined University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations to work on defining the construct of Reading for ESOL Examinations, on setting the research agenda, on providing validity evidence attesting to the quality of Cambridge ESOL examinations including the alignment of products to the CEFR.
She has given several workshops and presentations on a variety of topics at national and international events related to language teaching and testing including teacher training, curriculum development, test development, setting educational standards, and evaluating impact of reform interventions. Hanan's most recent publications are on issues and practice in aligning examinations to the CEFR (IAEA, 2008) and on theoretical and practical concerns when examining reading (CUP, 2009).
Please click here for more information of Dr. Hanan Khalifa on the University of Cambridge, ESOL Examinations website.