Vicki Bos, UQ-ICTE
Five common problems with listening test items, and how to fix them

In this session participants will examine common problems with test items written for listening assessment, and workshop how to avoid or correct them. Issues such as dictation, open keys, and inappropriate targets will be covered, with concrete examples taken from EAP-level test practice publications. The workshop format will be hands-on: participants will break into groups to analyse examples of poorly-constructed test items. For each item examined, we’ll begin by determining what the item is attempting to test, and whether or not this is a valid listening comprehension assessment goal. We’ll then go on to identify the problem with the item, and consider how that problem occurred in the test-writing process. Participants will work in groups looking at the items and the scripts to suggest a “fix” for each issue, and explain how their changes to the items represent an improvement in the validity of the listening assessment task. In the final part of the session, we’ll reflect on how these kinds of errors in test writing can be avoided, and consider how we can develop best practice in receptive skills test writing processes in ELICOS centres.

Vicki Bos has been a TESOL language teacher and teacher trainer at the Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education at The University of Queensland (ICTE-UQ) since 2001. She has a wide variety of English teaching experience, and has worked in language education contexts in Australia, Japan, Chile and Macau. She currently works mainly as a teacher trainer, conducting courses in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) and English & Methodology for Teaching Purposes (EMTP) for educators. She has extensive experience writing listening assessment items and scripts for a variety of in-house and externally standardised tests.