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ISBN: 9780776606576-07

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Qualitative Research Methods in Language Test Development and Validation

From: Language Testing Reconsidered

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This chapter introduces readers to several qualitative research methods as they relate to language testing and assessment, namely: Discourse and Conversation Analysis, Observation Checklists and Verbal Protocol Analysis. It focuses specifically on some of the qualitative studies in speaking and writing assessment undertaken by Cambridge ESOL in order to illustrate how outcomes from such investigations can feed directly into operational test development and validation activity. These research methods — together with other qualitative techniques — offer language testers viable solutions for a range of validation tasks.

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Anne Lazaraton

Anne Lazaraton is an Associate Professor of English as a Second Language at the University of Minnesota where she teaches courses in ESL methodology, language analysis, practicum, discourse analysis, and language assessment. Her book, A Qualitative Approach to the Validation of Oral Language Tests, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2002. Her research interests include teacher talk and presidential bullying of the press.

Lynda Taylor is Assistant Director of the Research and Validation Group within Cambridge ESOL, where she assists in coordinating the ESOL research program and disseminating research outcomes. She has extensive experience of theoretical and practical issues in language assessment. Current interests include the testing of speaking/writing, as well as the impact of linguistic variety on language assessment. Publications include an article in ELT Journal and a co-edited volume, IELTS Collected Papers.