An emic approach towards designing a diagnostic assessment task for higher degree research students

A. Mehdi Riazi*, Cassi Liardet

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Higher Degree Research (HDR) involves a unique set of literacy skills used to create and communicate new knowledge through the interpretation and synthesis of empirical evidence. Entry into such advanced degrees is judged by students’ past performance in coursework programs and, when appropriate, benchmarks of language proficiency (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL). However, these are often inadequate measures of how well-equipped students are to become autonomous researchers. Further, with the rise of global scholarship and student mobility, research students often enter advanced degree programs with varying educational and linguistic backgrounds and experiences. To address this variability and best support both local and international students, many institutions require students to sit an additional diagnostic language assessment (DLA) to evaluate their academic literacy skills and advanced writing proficiency. This chapter reviews a research literacy initiative designed to upskill incoming Masters by Research (MRes) and PhD students at an Australian University. As part of the program, incoming HDR students sit a customised diagnostic task to assess their level of interpretation, synthesis and academic writing. Specifically, this chapter outlines the challenges facing the definition of the diagnostic construct and students’ perceptions of and reflections on the tool, detailing how those considerations have influenced subsequent assessment and intervention designs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationStudies and essays on the learning, teaching, and assessing L2 writing in honour of Alister Cumming
    EditorsA. Mehdi Riazi, Ling Shi, Khaled Barkaoui
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
    Number of pages29
    ISBN (Electronic)9781527549517
    ISBN (Print)1527549518, 9781527548145
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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