Welcome to my third and final blog from the BAAL conference. The sun shone all the time in Southampton and the conference organisers did a really good job in putting on a seamless show.
The final morning of the conference featured a set of presentations on the theme of testing and assessment. This is my area of special interest so I really enjoyed the five presentations. One highlight was Stephen Bax’s presentation on the cognitive processes of successful and unsuccessful test-takers in onscreen IELTS reading tests. He used eye tracking technology to record where the test takers focussed their attention whilst completing the test tasks. The study also included stimulated recall interviews with the participants. The successful readers were better at expeditious reading than the unsuccessful ones. For the classroom teacher this study highlights the importance of teaching a variety of reading skills with a focus on expeditious reading skills. Teachers should also encourage students to read the question closely. Here I should declare I had a special interest in this presentation as the study had been funded by the British Council through the English Language Teaching Research Partnership Awards scheme. This scheme funds ELT research in UK universities.
Daniel Lam gave a prize winning presentation on how teenagers in Hong Kong contrive disagreements in speaking part of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. The students used the available planning time to script their discussions and they also included some disagreements as they felt this was the way to get high marks. It would seem that the test does not capture spontaneous speech and that the next goal is to move to more spontaneous participation. These were two highlights from a very interesting programme.
This is the end of the blog for now but it may reappear next year when BAAL heads to Edinburgh at HeriotWattUniversity.