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Applying the Rasch Model to Second Language Education: The Diagnostic English Language Tracking and Assessment (DELTA)
Despite having English as the medium of instruction in almost all Hong Kong Universities, maintaining and improving students’ English proficiency throughout their studies continues to be a challenge. Evidence suggests that if English is not the main subject of study, proficiency levels could decline or even hinder academic success. However, such evidence is anecdotal as a mechanism for monitoring students’ proficiency throughout their degree programme has not been available. In response to the perceived need for such a mechanism, three Hong Kong institutions have developed a web-based English assessment system to diagnose and track students’ progress in enhancing their English language learning while at university. Based on Rasch measurement principles, they have developed the Diagnostic English Language Tracking Assessment (DELTA). As a diagnostic test, it provides itemized information about students’ strengths and weaknesses in academic English reading, listening, grammar and vocabulary, while as a tracking system, it enables students to set their own targets and monitor their progress. With an awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses in English, they can engage with and ultimately make improvements in their overall proficiency.
This seminar describes the development, piloting and initial operation of the DELTA. The speaker presents an outline of how the principles of the Rasch model have been applied to the design and validation of this diagnostic English language assessment.
About the speaker
Michelle is an English language instructor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania, Australia. She has been involved in the design and administration of several large-scale assessments and specializes in the use of Rasch measurement for language testing and assessment. Her research interests include second language testing and assessment, and second language learning through drama and theatre.