Student Assessment Network (StAN)

Meetings normally take place two or three times each term 12.45-2.00 pm.and have included presentations from current students within OUCEA and students from other research groups in the Department, as well as outside speakers. StAN also holds Reading Groups and Writing Groups. Writing group sessions aim to provide students with tips on writing and the opportunity to receive peer feedback on their own written work. StAN members are sometimes invited to relevant teaching sessions on assessment-related topics. See below for details of recent meetings.

Meetings Trinity Term 2017

7 June 2017
Seminar Room D, 12.30 – 1.30 pm
English language assessment reform in China
Ding Wenjun Elyse
Current education reform in China requires educators of different subjects to cultivate students’ key competencies, including students’ cognitive abilities and non-cognitive abilities. Meanwhile, the assessment for primary and secondary English language education in China is undergoing deep reform. From 2017, students in several regions will have two chances to sit in the college entrance examination of English subject, while in the past all the students could merely take the high-stake test once; and the China’s Standards of English will be released, covering the linguistic objectives for primary, secondary and tertiary English education (Ministry of Education PRC., 2016) and serving as a reference for language assessment. While the language standards, curriculum standards and the general goals for different subjects may serve as a top-down approach of education reform, it remains uncertain as to what extent they might link with language classroom assessment practice, especially for the primary-school English language learners in the public education system. This talk will give a snapshot of the issues above based on the speaker’s ongoing master project about primary school English teachers’ perceptions and practice of assessing young language learners’ oral language in Beijing.

Wenjun (Elyse) Ding is a postgraduate student of MSc Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition in the Department of Education, Oxford University. Prior to her studies in Oxford, she worked as a research assistant at the National Institute of Education Sciences of China (NIES), participating in the development of a national teacher training standard for primary and secondary school English teachers. She also served as a teacher trainer in Beijing Normal University (BNU) and was responsible for several national teacher training projects.

14 June 2017
Seminar Room D, 12.30 – 1.30 pm
Logarithmically decelerating growth in mathematics achievement
David Andrich, Chapple Professor, Graduate School of Education The University of Western Australia. Visiting Fellow, OUCEA
The study of growth in educational achievement has relied largely on correlational and descriptive modelling, methods of the social sciences. Using these methods researchers have concluded that achievement in mathematics is greater in earlier than later years of schooling, and that achievements in the two periods are related. However, there is no single mathematical equation that distils the essence of the relationship between variables, the kind found in the natural sciences. This paper demonstrates that growth in means in mathematics achievement of five cohorts decelerates logarithmically; that the rate of growth, therefore, is inversely proportional to the time spent in formal schooling; and that, as shown in compelling graphical depictions, it is crucial to begin a trajectory of achievement during the most rapid growth in the early years. Specifically, means of two large cohorts of Australian students and means of cohorts from two large studies in the USA and one from Hong Kong, all follow a virtually perfect logarithmic growth. In addition, although the rate of growth of educationally disadvantaged groups in the Australian cohorts is greater than that of the educationally advantaged ones, the gap stabilises and those disadvantaged initially remain relatively very disadvantaged. We suggest that a logarithmic characterisation of growth on a quantitative scale as a function of time in schooling may unify the understanding and development of improvement in school mathematics achievement. In addition, it might be a starting point for studying how to capitalise on the rapid growth in the potentially critical period in the early years, and might lead to acknowledging in large scale, high profile assessment studies that the growth on a quantitative scale in the later years of schooling is inevitably slower than in the earlier years.

Meetings Michaelmas Term 2016

Wednesday 23rd November, 1230-145pm, Seminar Room E, ‘Psychometrics: measurement or magic, or both, or neither?’  Speaker: Dr Josh McGrane, Research Fellow at OUCEA.

All are welcome and lunch is provided. Please RSVP by 5pm on Monday 21st November to Kristine Gorgen, giving any dietary requirements

Abstract: This seminar will provide an idiosyncratic and somewhat provocative introduction to psychometrics, including a philosophical consideration of the general concept, a brief and accessible introduction to the Rasch Model, and a practical example of Rasch modelling in the creation of a test of phonological decoding. The seminar intends to instil an informed scepticism regarding some of the more ‘magical’ claims in the psychometric literature, whilst also demonstrating the power of psychometrics to enhance educational research. There will be plenty of time and encouragement for discussion. Josh will leave his cape at home.

Thursday 17th November, 1230-145pm, Seminar Room C.  ‘An insider’s view of public examinations: how GCSEs and A levels in England are set, marked, and graded – and how this will all change from 2017 onwards’.  Speaker: Alex Scharaschkin, Director of the Centre For Education Research and Practice at AQA, and DPhil student at OUCEA.

All are welcome and lunch is provided. Please RSVP by 5pm on Tuesday 15th November to Kristine Gorgen, giving any dietary requirements

Abstract:  Alex will introduce some key facts and figures about the exam system; the main players and the reforms introduced under Michael Gove that are now playing out (e.g. new specifications, abolishing modular examinations, new grading for GCSEs). He will then give an overview of how GCSE and A-level specifications are developed and accredited, how papers and mark schemes are developed; how standardisation and (e-)marking functions, and how grade boundaries are determined. He’ll also explain what happens after results days. Finally, there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion about issues of interest.


If you’d like to join our mailing list, please email the chair, Natalie Usher:

Past meetings

26 April 2016: Alex Scharaschkin, OUCEA D.Phil student and Director of Research and Compliance at AQA, Constructing meaning in educational assessment: a theoretical and empirical study in the context of high-stakes examinations in the UK.

11 May 2016: Klaus D. Kubinger, University of Vienna, Faculty of Psychology, Developmental enhancement-directed assessment by the Adaptive Intelligence Diagnosticum.

25 February 2016: Reading group, convened by Jeanne Ryan, on the policy impact of International Large-Scale Assessment (ILSA).

26 January 2016: Peer-led writing group convened by Natalie Usher.


29 October 2015: Practice presentation in preparation for AEA-Europe conference. Natalie UsherMaking the tacit visible: learning about academic writing through holistic peer assessment

15 October 2015: Professor David Andrich (University of Western Australia), Controlling Guessing Bias in the Dichotomous Rasch Model Applied to a Large-Scale, Vertically Scaled Testing Program

11 June 2015: Dr Bryan Maddox, University of East Anglia: Too cool for CATs? Participation, Stance and Affect in the PIAAC assessment. The abstract is available here.

28 May 2015: Reading Group on assessment and learning, followed by presentation from Diana Ng on scientific reasoning skills of primary science pupils in written assessments.

18 May 2015: Carol BrownWho am I and what can I achieve? (Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Cluster, Wolfson College)

19 February 2015: Dr Camilla Addey, University of East Anglia: The international assessment trend: why do lower and middle income countries join?

25 November 2014: Writing session in the Bodleian Library

30 October 2014: Student conference presentation practice. Jeanne RyanAEA-Europe conference presentation.

23 October 2014: Student conference presentations practice. Yasmine El MasriAEA-Europe Kathleen Tattersall New Researcher Award Keynote: Educational Assessment in the 21st Century: Assessment across cultures. Carol Brown – British Psychological Society Psychology of Education conference: Who am I and what can I achieve? The relationships between identity, expectations, values and A-level achievement.

16 October 2014: Nia Dowell, visiting student from Memphis University – What language reveals about you: Modelling learners’ cognitive and social dynamics using Coh-Metrix and Visiting Professor David AndrichA controversy in PISA and other large-scale assessments: the trade-off between model fit, invariance and validity

19 June 2014: Writing Group 2 with Professor Jo-Anne Baird.

5 June 2014: Student presentations – Gemma Bellhouse, Investigating Washback: Teaching and Learning Realities of an English Oral addition to the French National Secondary School Exiting Exam.

29 May 2014: Writing Group 1 with Professor Jo-Anne Baird.

19 May 2014: Dr Peter Gu, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand – Classroom assessment literacy for EFL teachers.

15 May 2014: Professor Roger Murphy, University of Nottingham – Evaluating educational assessments within their particular contexts.

13 March 2014: Lunch meeting at OUCEA

6 March 2014: Student presentations from DPhil student Gill Clarke (on how examiners judge the achievement of PhD candidates in the final examination) and MSc student Lydia Townsend (on student perceptions of the purposes of examination)

27 February 2014: Lunch meeting at OUCEA

20 February 2014: Lunch meeting at OUCEA

10 February 2014: QuantSIG seminar – Yasmine El Masri, How invariant are different language versions of the same science tests? A PISA 2006 case study

4 February 2014: Seminar – Teacher Evaluation – A Systematic Review

3 February 2014: Public Seminar – Dr Christian Ydesen, Aalborg University, Educational testing as an accountability measure

3 February 2014: Norwegian Review Symposium – A State of the Field Review of Assessment and Learning

30 January 2014: Lunch meeting at OUCEA

27 January 2014: Public Seminar – Dr Parvaneh Tavakoli, University of Reading, Can a single model of task complexity differentiate between the difficulty of writing and speaking tasks?

23 January 2014: Lunch meeting at OUCEA

5 December 2013: Doctoral student presentations from Natalie Usher on Assessment for Learning in writing lessons and Lucy Simpson on Public Trust in A-levels.

27 November 2013: Professor Art Graesser on Learning and Assessment with Conversational Agents and Automated Measurement of Text Characteristics.

12 November 2013: Dr Therese Hopfenbeck on Reading and critiquing research – lessons learned from two papers on assessment.

31 October 2013: Feedback on presentation skills in preparation for Association for Educational Assessment-Europe conference in Paris. Presenters: Yasmine El-Masri Can Language Maintain a Leveled Playing Field in International Comparative Science Assessment? An analysis of PISA science 2006 Cognitive Items and Carol Brown Eccles’ Theory of Identity and Achievement. A Study of Students Preparing for High-Stakes, A-level examinations.

24 October 2013: Dr Ed Wolfe on Policy and process in scoring performance assessments in the U.S.

15 and 17 October 2013: Professor David Andrich – Introduction to Rasch Models.

13 June 2013: Doctoral student presentations from Desmond Tan, Carol Brown and Agni Paramita.

30 May 2013: Writing Group with pieces from Yasmine El Masri and Teresa Florez.

28th March 2013: Dr Joshua McGrane, University of Western Australia, “A shaky discussion of the foundations of measurement (by a social scientist)”.

31st January 2013: Dr Daniel Caro, OUCEA Research Fellow, “Ten Hypotheses about Tolerance among Latin American Adolescents”.

25th February 2013: 
Associate Professor Astrid Tolo, University of Bergen, “Teacher Learning in Relation to Assessment”, with examples from the Norway experience. Our speaker’s research interests include the knowledge sector, teacher competence development and pedagogic feedback practices. Associate Professor Tolo was involved in the 2012/13 OECD project “Governing Complex Education Systems”, exploring governance mechanisms and knowledge options that facilitate effective steering of complex education systems.

21st November 2012: Student presentations from Carol Brown (Relationship between summative assessment and learning identity in A-level students in the UK), Agni Paramita (School effects on student achievement in Indonesia’s Junior Secondary education summative assessments: Do resources matter?) and Desmond Tan (Student teachers learning Assessment for Learning in schools)

25th October 2012: Keynote by Teresa Florez in preparation for AEA-Europe conference

18th October 2012: Professor John Gardner, University of Stirling, “The use of assessment to support learning”.

8th June 2012: Writing Group

25th May 2012: Reading Group (3) on Rasch modelling

18th May 2012: Reading Group (2) on Rasch Modelling

10th May 2012: Doctoral student presentations from Teresa Florez (Investigating assessment reform processes in Chile) and Yasmine El Masri (Comparing two language version of the same high-stakes science examination in Lebanon).

4th May 2012: Reading Group (1) on Rasch modelling

25th April 2012: Interview with a policy maker: Maria Teresa Florez interviewed Isabel Nisbet. Isabel used to be Chief Executive at Ofqual and is currently at the University of Cambridge International Examinations as Senior Education Advisor in the Asia Pacific region.

11th April 2012: Writing Group

12th March 2012: The first OUCEA Writing Group was held and has received very positive feedback so will be a regular event.

1st March 2012: Doctoral student presentations from Jessie Sim (Assessing financial literacy of children using the survey method) and Jenny Lim (Public examinations as context: an investigation of how teachers mediate students’ learning).

9th February 2012: Malcolm Hayes, a DPhil student in OUCEA who works for Pearson, presented on “Maintaining Standards in National Curriculum Tests”. To view a copy of his presentation, click here.

24th November 2011: Doctoral student presentations from Manzil Maqsood and Yasmine El Masri.

20th October 2011: Professor Gordon Stobart from the University of London Institute of Education discussed “Why is validity so neglected?”.

16th June 2011: Panel Discussion on “The use of quantitative methods in assessment research”. Panel members were Professor Herb Marsh, Professor Gordon Stanley and Professor Jim Tognolini.

19th May 2011: At the first StAN meeting, doctoral students Gill Clarke and Maria Teresa Florez presented their research.