Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments

Shaping English Language Assessments
with Research + Experience

MwALT 2014 a success!
October 15, 2014
Categories: Conferences, News

CaMLA hosted the sixteenth-annual Midwest Association of Language Testers conference on October 3 and 4 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a great pleasure to welcome 89 delegates to Ann Arbor from across the MwALT community and from further afield. We also had several presenters from beyond the Midwest—Columbia University, Northern Arizona University, The University of Massachusetts, Georgia State University, and from ETS.

CaMLA's Ericka Finley and Jessica O'Boyle with former colleagues Sarah Briggs and Spiros Papageorgiou.

CaMLA’s Ericka Finley and Jessica O’Boyle with former colleagues Sarah Briggs and Spiros Papageorgiou.

We were delighted to welcome Ute Römer—our former University of Michigan colleague—back to Ann Arbor to give the plenary speech. Ute got the conference started with a very insightful talk on how corpus linguistics can inform speaking assessment. Ute’s critique of rating scales used in high-stakes speaking tests was particularly relevant for the audience. There were also some excellent talks and posters from graduate students, faculty, and practitioners on a very broad range of assessment-related topics.

Three highlights at MwALT 2014 were talks given by the MwALT award winners. Meghan Odsliv Bratkovich from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, was presented with the Best Student Paper award. She gave an excellent presentation of her paper, “Assessment and feedback: Examining the relationship between self-assessment and blind peer- and teacher-assessment in TOEFL writing.” Reviewers noted that Megan’s paper included a particularly comprehensive literature review and that its findings offered some important guidance for second language writing pedagogy.

mwalt-workshop

Participants in the preconference workshop “Training Speaking Test Examiners: The Devil Is in the Detail” working on speaking rating scales.

This year a joint award was given for Best Student Presentation. The winners were:

  • Sarah Goodwin of Georgia State University for, “A Multi-Facet Rasch analysis comparing essay rater behavior on a test used for two purposes,” and
  • Linxiao Wang of Northern Arizona University for, “L2 learners’ use of interaction features in different paired speaking tasks.”

The three award winners showed off some of the best research being done by graduate students in our field. We look forward to more stimulating talks and discussion when MwALT reconvenes at The University of Iowa in Iowa City in 2015!

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