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Testing & Assessment in English Language Teaching - EDU00066M

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Emma Marsden
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

Language teaching is often indirectly influenced by formal testing and more directly influenced by classroom-based assessment, while knowledge of testing is often necessary to understand and carry out research into language teaching. This module provides an introduction to key concepts and principles in language testing and assessment. It covers theoretical approaches to assessment and testing of language skills in the contexts of General English and English for Specific / Academic Purposes (ESP/EAP).

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24
B Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

  • To provide an overview of ELT assessment ranging from informal classroom assessment to the theory and practice relating to more formal standardised tests.

  • To develop understanding of key concepts and debates in language testing with reference to communicative language testing and testing languages for specific purposes.

  • To explore recent trends in testing, with reference to technology.

  • To provide opportunities for students to review and critique aspects of internationally recognised tests.

  • To develop an understanding of the issues involved in designing test items and creating tasks for performance tests.

  • To demonstrate the role of testing in research by reference to relevant research studies.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understand the difference between formative and summative assessment, and the different types of tests and assessment approaches available according to purposes and contexts.

  • Understand key concepts of such as validity, reliability, washback and authenticity and how to apply them when evaluating or critiquing tests.

  • Be more familiar with debates and issues surrounding integrated language testing and testing Language for Specific Skills (LSP) with reference to approaches used in established internationally recognised tests.

  • Be able to adapt or design tests for specific teaching contexts.

  • Be more familiar with current and emerging trends in language testing and research into testing.

Module content

This module will consist of tutor-led sessions with workshop style activities and tasks. Students will be expected to prepare readings and view videos each week, with a classroom focus on discussion tasks that test and extend the knowledge gained from them. A class blog is an additional feature that extends classroom discussion.

The relationship between, testing assessment and teaching is explored, emphasizing formative and summative purposes as the key to understanding this relationship. The paradigms of norm referenced and criterion referenced testing are also introduced with reference to various types of test related to their purposes and contexts of use. Key concepts such as validity in its various forms, and washback are covered, with a close look at how tests align with teaching, particularly in relation to high stakes tests such as Cambridge IELTS and Pearson PTE.

Creating tests and test items explores the various advantages and drawbacks of a range of test methods and item types. Multiple Choice Questions/ cloze/ short answer/editing/matching are explored, with an opportunity to practise using some of these item types in small-scale tests.

After introducing theoretical concepts, direct tests of performance in tests of speaking and writing discussed in depth. This allows for a consideration of the issues around the design of rating scales and dealing with inter/intra rater reliability. The testing of passive skills of listening and reading provides a different focus to consider genres, skills tested and strategies involved in such tests. The uses of technology and online testing provides the opportunity to discuss the recent trend towards tests integrating different skills, and a focus on the reading to write construct, with examples from the Pearson Academic English Test.

Classroom-based assessment is an important aspect of testing which provides some contrast to the focus on high stakes international tests. The formative / summative distinction is revisited, with a focus on alternatives to formal tests, such as portfolio assessment, peer and self-assessment and teacher observed assessment of classroom tasks. Testing for specific purposes provides the opportunity to review many concepts introduced earlier in the module, with a focus on ESP/EAP and the relationship between language ability, specific purpose/ content knowledge and task design.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The assessment for this module has a 3,500 word length.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback in a range of ways throughout this module. This will include oral feedback in class, responses to posts on the VLE discussion board and written comments on work. You will be provided with written feedback on assignment report sheets as well as them being readily available on the VLE. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information

Indicative reading

Alderson, J. C., Clapham, C., & Wall, D. (1995). Language Test Construction and Evaluation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown, D. (2004). Language Assessment. White Plains: Pearson Education.

Brown, H,D,. & Abeywickrama,P. (2010). Language assessment: Principles and classroom practices. New Jersey. Pearson.

Chapelle, C.A., & Douglas, D. (2006). Assessing Language through Computer Technology. Cambridge: CUP.

Cheng, L., Watanabe, Y., Curtis, A. (2004). Washback in Language Testing. Mahwah, N.J; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Douglas, D. (2000). Assessing Languages for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: CUP.

Green, A. (2014). Exploring language assessment and testing. Abingdon, Routledge.

Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers. 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huot, B.,& ONeill, P. (2009). Assessing Writing: A critical sourcebook. Boston/New York: Bedford St.Martins.

Fulcher, G., & Davidson, F. (2007). Language Testing and Assessment: An advanced resource book. London: Routledge.

Fulcher, G. (2010). Practical Language Testing. London: Hodder Education.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.