SIGLTA meeting on Thursday 23rd May: Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Changing the Face of Formative and Summative Assessment

SIGLTAYou are cordially invited to attend the Special Interest Group in Language Testing and Assessment (SIGLTA) meeting. SIGLTA is a postgraduate student-led reading/research group within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The meeting is at 17:00-18:30 on Thursday 23/05/2019 in room 1173, Avenue Campus (building 65), and will be led by Dr. Rose Clesham, the Director of Academic Standards and Measurement, Global Assessment, Pearson.

Abstract: Millions of English as a Second Language students are taught and assessed each year on both receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) skills for entry into English speaking universities or professions. These tests are high stakes and prospective candidates apply from across the world. So how can these skills be tested with high validity, reliability and lack of bias and obtain almost immediate feedback, accurate scoring and diagnostic information? This talk will describe and demonstrate how research and advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have changed the way one of these testing agencies assesses and measures oral, aural, reading and written skills, on a global scale, using large worldwide data sets. Artificial Intelligence as a concept is not new, dating back over seventy years. However, enormous computing power and algorithmic advances now available enables AI and automated machine decision-making to effortlessly process big data and it is applied to many areas of society, from banking to entertainment.

In an educational assessment context, these AI technologies can be used for formative or summative purposes, and may in time replace both national and international tests and assessments. Public perception in this area has often focused on the lack of human interaction and judgement when automated marking technologies are used. This talk will demonstrate that in many ways, the opposite is true. The use of artificial technologies allows the judgement of hundreds of human assessors to work in unison, increasing validity in terms of broader content representation, and removing bias and low reliability issues. These technologies also significantly reduce teacher workload in terms of marking student work, yet still allow teachers to benefit from diagnostic feedback on their students, and releases valuable time to facilitate personalised learning.

The speaker: Rose is the Director of Academic Standards and Measurement, working in Global Assessment at Pearson. Her career started in teaching, and teacher education, before moving on to Governmental positions, responsible for running national assessment programmes in the UK. Her roles in Pearson have included leading Assessment Design and Research teams, carrying out national and international alignment and benchmarking studies, and presenting at major international conferences. Rose has also worked extensively on OECD PISA assessments, co-writing the 2015 Scientific Literacy Framework.

If you require any further information please send an email to na1y17@soton.ac.uk or lmb2g15@soton.ac.uk or see the SIGLTA Facebook page.

Research centres event on Wednesday 20th March: “Perspectives on the concept of the ‘native speaker'”

Research centresThe next seminar, which combines speakers from four of our research centres, will be held on Wednesday 20th March from 4-5:30pm in Lecture Theatre C at Avenue Campus (Building 65). The seminar is entitled “Perspectives on the concept of the ‘native speaker'” and will be presented by a range of staff from the department. All staff and students are welcome for what will be a lively session!

Here is the abstract for the seminar:
Over recent decades, the notion of the ’native speaker’ has been much discussed and often contested in applied and socio-linguistics. In this cross-centres seminar, speakers from our four research centres, CGE, CLLEAR, MeXsu and TNS will each present their own approach to the notion, and the seminar will then be opened up to the audience for comment and discussion. The speakers are Rob Baird and Sonia Morán Panero representing CGE, Laura Dominguez representing CLLEAR, and Clare Mar-Molinero representing both MeXsu and TNS.

Next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar on Wednesday 6th March: Who defines what it means to be “disabled” in China today?

TNSThe next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar will be held on Wednesday 6th March from 4-5pm in room 1177 at Avenue Campus (Building 65) in collaboration with the Confucius Institute. The seminar is entitled “Who defines what it means to be ‘disabled’ in China today?” and will be presented by Dr Sarah Dauncey from the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. All staff and students are welcome!

Here is the abstract for the seminar:
In this talk, Sarah Dauncey looks at the construction of disabled identities specifically from the perspective of Chinese cultural epistemologies. Drawing on sociological theories of citizenship, her research reveals how traditionally accepted notions of personhood are often fundamentally challenged through encounters and interactions with understandings of disability and impairment. She provides engaging examples of the ways in which representations and narratives of disability negotiate the identity of their subject(s) in relation to dominant discourses, where collective social, political and cultural understandings of what it means to live a ‘productive’ disabled life are both imbued and contested. Her findings offer new evidence as to the importance of intersectional accounts of disabled citizenship in revealing the complex and shifting power relationships between disabled individuals and/or groups and the state in any particular country or specific cultural context.

More information on Dr Dauncey can be found on her profile page.

SIGLTA meeting on Thursday 28th February: Setting a CEFR cut score on test instruments

SIGLTAYou are cordially invited to attend the Special Interest Group in Language Testing and Assessment (SIGLTA) meeting. SIGLTA is a postgraduate student-led reading/research group within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The meeting is at 17:00-18:30 on Thursday 28/02/2019 in room 1095, Avenue Campus (building 65).

Abstract: Standard setting is a decision-making process of setting a cut score – a certain point on a test scale used for classifying test takers into at least two different categories (e.g. pass or fail). The standard setting process usually entails recruiting a group of panellists to complete a variety of tasks in order to recommend a cut score on a certain test instrument. In this presentation, I will discuss what constitutes good practice in setting CEFR standards for language examinations. The most common standard setting methods will be covered as well as their associated challenges.

The speaker: Dr Charalambos (Harry) Kollias received his Ph.D. degree from Lancaster University. He works as an Assessment Research and Analysis Manager at Oxford University Press. He has over 30 years’ experience in the education sector in roles ranging from teacher, teacher trainer to assessor trainer and (co)author of examination materials. With over 18 years’ experience in the assessment field, his areas of specialism include measurement analysis (pre- and post-test analysis), test material development, alignment studies, (virtual) standard setting workshops, and research studies. He has presented at several international conferences and facilitated the 12th Annual EALTA pre-conference workshop with Sauli Takala entitled “Standard setting – how to implement good practice”. His main interests are Rasch measurement theory, (virtual) standard setting, language assessment and validation, and artificial intelligence.

If you require any further information please send an email to na1y17@soton.ac.uk or lmb2g15@soton.ac.uk or see the SIGLTA Facebook page.

Next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar on Wednesday 20th February: Mental Health under Communism

TNSThe next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar will be held on Wednesday 20th Febuary from 4-5pm in room 1177 at Avenue Campus (Building 65) in collaboration with the Centre for Medical and Health Humanities. The seminar is entitled “Mental Health under Communism: Transnational Connections across the Iron Curtain and within the Eastern Bloc.” All staff and students are welcome!

Here is the abstract for the seminar:
Historians have traditionally assumed that the psy-disciplines behind the Iron Curtain, when they were not being abused for political purposes, were dominated by a topdown ‘Pavlovisation’, whereby Moscow bound scientists within the restrictive orthodoxy of theories derived from the celebrated Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. In this paper I demonstrate that researchers were far from isolated from international developments – whether in the broader Soviet sphere, China, or the ‘West’ – and appropriated a broad range of theoretical models, including some which the Party had officially banned. Antipsychotic drugs were adopted from the West and mass-produced by state-owned firms. Psychoanalysis survived underground, coming into plain sight as theories of the unconscious influenced the world’s longest-running, state-sponsored LSD psychotherapy project in Prague between 1954 and1974. New models of mind from cybernetics, human ecology and infant attachment theory re-shaped research, treatment and even state-level policy. By tracing these transnational connections this paper challenges narratives of overwhelming state control. It traces the strategies that individuals used to further their professional and personal interests, both underground and in plain sight, and the examples of psychiatrists who engaged – whether explicitly or reluctantly – in the project of building socialism as a result.

More information on Dr Marks can be found on her profile page.

Next CLLEAR seminar: Aspirations of youth, English for future life plans in a school in Catalonia

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 13th February 2019 at 4pm in Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus (Building 65). The talk is entitled “Aspirations of youth, English for future life plans in a school in Catalonia” and will be delivered by Adriana Patino-Santos from Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of Southampton. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
The implementation of English as the language of instruction to teach content, usually referred to as Content and Language Integrated Language (CLIL) programmes, is changing the lives of teachers and students alike in Spain, as they deal with a set of issues related to new forms of teaching content though their second and, in the case of Catalonia, third language. Complementing my previous research on the portrayal of liberal selves among CLIL teachers in Catalonia (Codó & Patiño-Santos 2018), this presentation explores the narratives of secondary school students who attend these programmes. Through ‘life project stories’ (du Bois-Reymond 1998) and contrasted with ethnographic information, I aim to give an account of the ways in which a group of youngsters navigate social relations and imagine future plans under the new circumstances imposed by language policies that aim to neoliberalise the Catalan education system (Martinez & Albaiges Blasi 2013). ‘Generation’, even though a debatable concept within the sociology of youth (Furlong 2013), will be brought into the discussion to show how the ways in which young people engage with English in their daily lives signal an important ongoing generational shift in Spain, product of a set of recent traumatic collective events.

CGE Research Seminar on Wednesday 6th February: Ecological perspectives on researching multilingually: foregrounding and problematising language in an era of English-dominated scholarship

CGEThe next Centre for Global Englishes (CGE) seminar will take place on Wednesday 5th February 2019 from 5:00pm in Lecture Theatre C (room 1175), Building 65, Avenue Campus. The seminar will be presented by Richard Fay from the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester and is entitled “Ecological perspectives on researching multilingually: foregrounding and problematising language in an era of English-dominated scholarship”. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
In this talk, with reference to a series of AHRC-funded research projects, and mindful of the Anglo-centric pressures within much global academic publishing, I will explore the area of research practice we term Researching Multilingually (RM-ly) and present an ecologically-framed analysis of researcher praxis vis-à-vis RM-ly. I will present these inter-related research projects and, in doing so, explore how the understanding of RM-ly has shifted over the years. In particular, there has been a move from:
a) foregrounding languages in research – exploring researcher thinking and practice regarding the use of multiple languages in research (in an institutional and global context of English-dominated research); to
b) problematising the languaging of research – exploring researcher praxis regarding their languaging of research.
By the end, I will raise a number of proposals relating to researcher education, research governance, and epistemic justice.

Next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar: ‘Just Like It Is at Home!’: Being Deaf across the Socialist Bloc

TNSThe next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar will be held on Wednesday 30th January from 4-5pm in room 1177 at Avenue Campus (Building 65) in collaboration with the Centre for Medical and Health Humanities. The seminar is entitled ‘”Just Like It Is at Home!”: Being Deaf across the Socialist Bloc.’ All staff and students are welcome!

Here is the abstract for the seminar:
The years following the Second World War and the sovietisation of Eastern Europe saw increased links between the Soviet deaf community and their Eastern European ‘brothers’. On one level, these links were institutional, with the All-Russian Society of the Deaf reaching out to equivalent deaf societies across the Eastern Bloc, culminating in the creation of an international Socialist Union of Deaf Mutes in the tumultuous year of 1968. At the same time, they were informal, familial, and grassroots, as groups of deaf people travelled across the socialist bloc and encountered people and institutions – both deaf and socialist – just like their own. This paper will explore these contacts as part of a concerted attempt to define the ‘socialist deaf person’. In the context of heightened international tensions and the consumerist competition of the Cold War, the socialist deaf community was seen as a success story worth celebrating: a group of people who had overcome the physical obstacle of deafness to become full-blooded, independent workers through the transformative power of socialism. Yet these contacts also revealed tensions, differences and misunderstandings and posited uncomfortable hierarchies between the ‘big brother’ USSR and the ‘little brother’ countries of Eastern Europe. As such, the transnational links of the late Soviet era reveal both commonalities and differences of deaf experience, and suggest that perhaps ‘socialist deafness’ was perhaps not as monolithic as its proponents might like to think.

More information on Dr Shaw can be found on her profile page.

CGE Research Seminar on Wednesday 5th December: From English language learners to Intercultural Citizens: Chinese student sojourners development of intercultural citizenship in ELT and EMI programmes

CGEThe next Centre for Global Englishes (CGE) seminar will take place on Wednesday 5th December 2018 from 5:00pm in Lecture Theatre C (room 1175), Building 65, Avenue Campus. The seminar will be presented by Will Baker from the Centre for Global Englishes at the University of Southampton and is entitled “From English language learners to Intercultural Citizens: Chinese student sojourners development of intercultural citizenship in ELT and EMI programmes”. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
The notion of global or intercultural citizenship has become prominent in international higher education and EMI (English medium instruction). The goal is to educate students for successful interaction in intercultural situations across multiple communities from the local to the global. However, most discussions are at the theoretical level and there is insufficient empirical evidence documenting the extent to which experiences of students in international universities actually leads to the development of intercultural citizenship. To address this gap this research explored Chinese students’ (the largest group of international students in the UK and a major group of ELT learners) experiences before, during and after study-abroad (SA). Data was collected from students (n = 253) via questionnaires, interviews and a focus group in the UK and China. Findings demonstrated generally positive attitudes towards intercultural citizenship and intercultural citizenship education. Furthermore, many participants reported developing an increased sense of identification with intercultural citizenship as a result of SA. However, understanding of intercultural citizenship was often superficial and no students reported any formal intercultural citizenship education either in preparation for SA or during their time in the UK. Moreover, a number of students either rejected or withdrew from the idea of developing an intercultural identity due to negative impressions of intercultural experiences. We argue that these mixed findings are unsurprising given the lack of opportunities to prepare for or reflect on intercultural experiences. Furthermore, the absence of intercultural citizenship education is a missed opportunity in ELT and EAP provision.

Next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar: Historiographies of the Present: What is to be Decolonised about Non-Aligned Futures and Imaginations?

TNSThe next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar will be held on Wednesday 21st November from 3-4pm in room 1173 at Avenue Campus (Building 65). The seminar is entitled ‘Historiographies of the Present: What is to be Decolonised about Non-Aligned Futures and Imaginations?’ All staff and students are welcome!

The seminar is entitled Historiographies of the Present: What is to be Decolonised about Non-Aligned Futures and Imaginations? Here is the abstract for the seminar:
Contemporary Eastern Europe is currently, once more, one of the spaces for the rise of far right, fascist agendas, as much as increasingly dominated by the rule of heteronormatively imagined futures. To an extent, the “region” holds a shared socialist history of gender inequality and in places like Romania, long histories of slavery and domination over Roma populations. In this contemporaneity that hardly feels shared, where does a decolonial project need to start from? What kind of “whiteness” are we talking about when talking about Eastern European, former socialist subjects? Why are intersectional issues of race, gender and sexuality historically enmeshed but also often invisible from critical contemporary evaluations of the aesthetics and politics of the “region”? I propose to turn to a specific historicalcontextual moment of the Non-Aligned Movement as a point of departure in this analysis to ask what type of imagination and what forms of futurity were projected from socialist Eastern Europe onto some of the late colonial, soon to be independent countries in Africa.

The seminar will be led by Dr Mihaela Brebenel, Lecturer in Digital Media Culture at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. Mihaela is interested in screen studies, film theory, media archaeology, aesthetic theory, the politics of the audiovisual, feminist practices with moving images, the cultural production of subjectivity in contemporary technologically-mediated contexts, historiographies and critical uses of archival images in academic and artistic practice. She also reflects in her work on gender, performance and interventions exploring the private and public configurations of media, space, memory, and the possibilities of collective work.

We have arranged for the event to finish on time for colleagues who wish to attend the Advanced Research in Arts and Humanities seminar at 4pm, and the event is held in the same building.

Further details, including an abstract, can be found on the poster for the event.