chapter  45
16 Pages

Qualitative Research Methods in Second Language Assessment

In the previous volume of the Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning, Lumley and Brown (2005, p. 840) observe that qualitative methods have become increasingly used to examine issues of language testing, and that a number of commentators relate this to the conception of validity in assessment widening from a solely quantitative view to a integrated holistic view based on a range of quantitative and qualitative evidence. They then review studies of the qualitative research methods more popular in language assessment (discourse analysis, introspection and ethnographic methods) and note how they raise problems about language assessment. Discourse analysis, for example, has raised concerns about the nature of oral interview discourse by contrast with conversational interaction outside the testing situation, the way in which candidate performance may be influenced by variation in interviewer behaviours, task type and so on. In other words, Lumley and Brown start from qualitative research methods and discuss the problems that they raise with assessment practices.