B1. What is your proposed area of research?
Language testing. Specifically the testing of non-traditional digital writing skills, as defined by researchers in the field of multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996). The context is secondary school English language education in Singapore.
B2. Within this area, what would you like to investigate? Please include at least one possible research question here.
- How can a given construct of non-traditional digital writing skills be operationalised in terms of assessment criteria and rating scales?
- In the operational test, to what extent do the individual criteria distinguish between test-takers who score different grades?
- Are raters experienced in the assessment of traditional writing skills able to use the new criteria consistently and reliably?
- Does the use of such a test result in desired washback; that is, improvements in the instruction of non-traditional writing skills?
B3. What are your reasons for choosing this proposed research project? (These might be theoretical, professional or both.)
The nature of literacy has changed with the advent of affordable computing devices and higher internet speeds. These new forms of literacy are fast becoming essential in modern society. However, mainstream education continues to lag behind research in this area. This is despite the strong push by education authorities in many countries, such as Singapore, to integrate ICT into their literacy programmes.
In Singapore’s assessment-driven education system, this problem could be attributed to the traditional assessment practices still dominant here. Crucially, the high-stakes Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) Examination for English Language, taken by secondary school students in their final year, remain very much a traditional language test. Therefore, assessment practices would have to take the lead in changing the status quo.
However, research in the assessment of multiliteracies has been limited to date. My research aims to fill the gap in a way that is immediately applicable in the context of Singapore schools. This is in line with Singapore’s role as one of the five founding countries of the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project (ATC21S).
B4. Do you have ideas about the sort of data you might need for your research?
- Test-takers’ scripts from a new test of non-traditional digital writing.
- Double-rated scripts by teacher-raters.
- Think-aloud protocol (concurrent or retrospective) data from teacher-raters.
B5. How might you collect this data? Do you already have access to it? (N.B. Do not list here books you will read or have read.)
The participants will be teachers and pupils from a secondary school in Singapore who are also participating in a study that aims to identify similarities between the skills involved in traditional pen-and-paper writing and non-traditional digital writing.