Trinity's Richard Harris and John Begley presented on 'How can socially constructed knowledge held in communities of practice be reliably assessed? Lessons from TESOL assessment?' at the Future of English Language Teaching Conference (FOELT) in June 2021.
A community of practice is a collection of individuals who engage in some common endeavour. Such communities emerge in response to conditions that then orient participants’ view of and relationship with the surrounding environment. Social constructivism in education describes the process of learning and improvement whereby new meaning is negotiated through the medium of language and knowledge is formed. It recognises that what might be impossible for one becomes possible for two in co-constructed learning space. The Trinity TESOL ethos of social constructivism means that it is possible for it to cater for the diverse communities of practice that the TESOL world encompasses. Given that TESOL practices are socially constructed and organically regulated by the community in which they are situated, the knowledge which these practices embody is only bounded by the community from it they springs. The first step in developing reliable and valid tests is to determine what the test is targeting, or to put it more technically, to define the construct. To define something is to describe its exact limits, or to fix it clearly and distinctly. These two conditions, of unbounded socially constructed knowledge and a clearly demarcated construct, may seem antithetical. How can this gap be bridged? What do testers need to consider when developing assessments of subject knowledge held in communities? This talk will consider these questions in the light of experiences in the development of two TESOL qualifications.
Download the PowerPoint slides used in this Breakout session.