Lecture by Tim McNamara, April 14, 2003

Tearing us Apart Again: the Paradigm Wars and the Search for Validity

by Tim McNamara, University of Melbourne

Language testing research is an increasingly divided field, as it responds to the paradigm shifts in broader applied linguistics research.  On the one hand, language testing validation research places a fundamental emphasis on the generalizability of results and the appropriateness of inferences made based on observations of learner performance.  This involves a rigorous interrogation of the procedures for elicitation and judgment of performance on which inferences about individual test takers are made.  At the same time, input from non-measurement traditions is leading to the exploration of new insights into the limitations of such inferences, and to a greater understanding of the social values which imbue tests.  This epistemological ferment is as much productive as problematic, and its implications extend to research in other areas of applied linguistics, including second language acquisition.

Monday, April 14, 2003
3:00 – 5:00 pm, 370 Dwinelle Hall