Prof. Scott Douglas receives $12,000 to investigate test-taker’s spoken and written vocabulary
Douglas, assistant professor with the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus, has been awarded a $12,000 project grant by Paragon Testing Enterprises for language testing research that will contribute to the ongoing need to contribute evidence to the validity of high stake standardized English language proficiency testing.
Each year, 170,000 immigrants become Canadian citizens. An important step in this process is demonstrating language skills, typically by taking an approved language test.
Douglas’s research is a timely response to investigate the overall validity of standardized English language proficiency tests that are used to provide evidence of English language abilities needed for immigration and citizenship decisions.
“The Faculty of Education is proud of Dr. Douglas’ work in the area of additional language learning. This grant is yet another example of scholarship. He is a leader in the field and a sought after speaker. Dr. Douglas continues to exhibit his expertise through his teaching, graduate supervision, and research,” stated Prof. Susan Crichton, director of the Faculty of Education.
In the one-year project, Douglas will examine the lexical characteristics of test taker performance in the written and spoken sections of The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General Test—a Canadian-approved language proficiency test developed and delivered by Paragon Testing Enterprises.
“The CELPIP-General is a Canadian test focused on the variety of English typically used in Canadian contexts,” explains Douglas.
The Canadian research project builds on Douglas’s extensive language research which includes inquiry into the lexical demands of post-secondary studies in English, vocabulary teaching and learning, and academic writing teaching and assessment.
“My main research goal in this project is to understand how test takers’ vocabulary output unfolds over varying levels of proficiency in both speaking and writing,” says Douglas.
Douglas plans to compare his results to test-takers’ equivalent Canadian Language Benchmarks, Canada’s descriptions of what language users can do at different levels of proficiency, to develop a model of lexical usage over proficiency levels.
The research will be a meaningful contribution to the field of English Language Assessment in Canada.
“This funding is an important contribution to training the next generation of English language teaching professionals in the field of language assessment.”
In the one-year project, Douglas will work with undergraduate and graduate research assistants and explore new methods to contribute evidence connected to the validity of standardized English Language tests.
“Language testing is a key stepping stone for thousands of potential immigrants to Canada,” notes Jake Stone, manager of Test Research and Development at Paragon Testing.
“A test with such high stakes consequences as the CELPIP-General demands the expertise of Canadians in diverse fields who will help us to ensure the fairest and most valid test possible. Scott is a key collaborator in this effort.”
Paragon Testing is a subsidiary of UBC which creates and delivers English language tests—in addition to preparing candidates for language tests. UBC and Paragon Testing Enterprises recently signed a collaborative research agreement.