Pearson Education Grant projects

The Language Testing Research Centre was awarded two Pearson grants in 2019 for the research projects outlined in this section

Project 2: Examining the relevance of the Pearson PTE Academic test tasks for nursing professional registration – a stakeholder perceptions study

The study aims to examine the relevance of the test tasks in a large-scale language test to the work domain of internationally-qualified nurses in Australia

Image of two nurses

Overseas-trained nurses (also referred to as internationally qualified nurses or IQNs) play a major part in international workforce migration patterns and are frequently recruited to fill major workforce shortages in workplaces in English-speaking countries. To gain registration and subsequent employment, IQNs are required to fulfil a series of registration requirements and proving their English language proficiency is commonly one of the first hurdles in this process. In a number of English-speaking countries, one option for IQNs to fulfil the English language requirement is by taking a recognised English language test and achieving this at a level specified by the relevant registration board. In Australia, for example, nurses can take the Occupational English Test, the IELTS, the TOEFL test or the Pearson PTE Academic.

Many of the recognised language tests were not expressly developed for this purpose, however. The aim of this study is to involve IQNs to establish the relevance of Pearson PTE test tasks to the nursing work domain. Thirty IQNs who have previously taken the Pearson PTE and have subsequently gained registration and are now working in Australian workplaces are the target participants. The nurses will be asked of their perceptions of the usefulness and relevance of the various PTE Academic task types to their nursing contexts. The study has important implications for our understanding of the relevance of English language test tasks to professional communication as well as the use of domain expert informants in this process.

Project 1: How do test takers prepare for computerised speaking tests? A comparative study of the PTE Academic and the CET-SET

This study aims to examine and compare test takers’ preparation practices and strategies on two high-stakes computerised speaking tests

Image of person at computer

Despite the abundance of research on test preparation, few studies have focused on how test takers prepare for speaking tests, let alone a fully automated one. In addition, no research, to the best of our knowledge, has compared test takers’ preparation practices and strategies on two high-stakes computerised speaking tests which differ in purpose, format, scoring methods, and indeed, the speaking constructs that are measured. This proposed study is aimed to examine and compare test takers’ preparation practices and strategies on two high-stakes computerised speaking tests: the speaking test of the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic and the College English Test – Spoken English Test (CET-SET). The study will focus on the Chinese context where unprecedented numbers of students are learning English at different levels and taking various English language tests, both local (eg the CET) and international (eg the PTE Academic).

A sequential exploratory mixed-methods design, including a qualitative and quantitative strand, will be adopted in this study. Focus groups and interviews will be conducted among both the PTE Academic and CET-SET test takers to explore their test preparation activities and strategies. Based on the findings that emerged from the qualitative study, a survey questionnaire will be developed to collect data from a larger sample of the PTE Academic and CET-SET test takers. The findings will provide Pearson, the provider of the PTE Academic, with important evidence concerning the construct and consequential validity of its speaking test. Furthermore, this study will also have important implications for the teaching and learning of English speaking in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts.

Project 2

Sponsor / grant scheme

Pearson Education / Pearson Education Grant PTE, 2019 grant round

Project team members

Associate Professor Ute Knoch
Mr Andrew Pitman

Contact

Associate Professor Ute Knoch

Project 1

Sponsor / grant scheme

Pearson Education / Pearson Education Grant PTE, 2019 grant round

Project team members

Dr Jason Fan

Contact

Dr Jason Fan