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2018 Preconference Workshop 2
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Mixed methods research in language assessment validation studies

Leader: Mehdi Riazi

Mixed-methods research (MMR) is based on the premise that quantitative and qualitative methods can be combined in the collecting, analysing and presenting of research data to make more comprehensive inferences. The application of MMR to the investigation of research problems is increasingly gaining prominence and utility in social science and educational research. This development acts as a counterpoint to the dominant polarisation, until relatively recently, of adopting an ‘either/or’ perspective (i.e. either quantitative or qualitative) in research methodology. What is clear is that the appeal of MMR is growing and proving valuable for a wide range of researchers in a variety of academic disciplines including applied linguistics in general and language assessment in particular.

While the development and use of MMR in social and educational research has been growing considerably, it has been subject to a substantial amount of misinterpretation and unsystematic use and the rationale for choosing a particular type of mixed-method design partly as a result of its own recent process of development and partly because researchers are sometimes not clear as why, when, and how the two methodologies might be mixed. This workshop intends to provide a space for participants’ awareness of the criteria for choosing a particular purpose and design and to explicate the use of MMR in language assessment validation studies and especially the correspondence between argument-based approach to test validation and MMR.

Participants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with MMR literature before attending the workshop to develop a common background on MMR. They may read all or one of the following sample sources. In the workshop, we will discuss how a test validation study might be designed using an argument-based approach and how MMR may be used to collect and analyse data and provide evidence for each of the inferences in the argument-based framework to test validation. As a case in point, we will discuss Johnson and Riazi, A.M. (2017) and Han and Riazi (2017). Participants are also encouraged to discuss their own projects (if they are involved in any) in the workshop for discussion and reflection.
The workshop will end with some recommendations for using MMR more systematically in language assessment validation studies.

Pre-workshop readings:
Riazi, A.M. (2017). Mixed-methods research in language teaching and learning. London: Equinox.
Riazi, A.M. (2016). Innovative Mixed-methods Research (IMMR): Moving beyond design technicalities to epistemological and methodological realisations. Applied Linguistics, 37(1), 33-49.
Riazi, A.M., & Candlin, C.N. (2014). Mixed-methods research in language teaching and learning: Opportunities, issues and challenges. Language Teaching, 47, 135-173.
Johnson, R., & Riazi, A.M. (2017). Validation of a locally created and rated writing test used for placement in a higher education EFL program. Assessing Writing, 32, 84-105.
Han, C., & Riazi, M. (2017). Investigating the effects of speech rate and accent on simultaneous interpretation: a mixed-methods approach. Across Languages and Cultures, 18(2), 237–259.

Mehdi Riazi is professor of applied linguistics in the Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He received his PhD in 1995 from the University of Toronto, Canada. He worked at Shiraz University for 14 years and joined Macquarie University in Australia in 2009. Currently, he convenes and lectures on two postgraduate units of Research Methods and Language Assessment at Macquarie University. He also supervises both masters and doctoral students. He has successfully supervised to completion 20 doctoral students and 48 master’s theses, and currently supervises 6 PhD candidates. His areas of interest include language testing and assessment, academic communication, second language reading and writing, and research methodology. He was the principal investigator of three research projects funded by IELTS, Pearson, and Educational Testing Service (TOEFL-iBT) on test validation. Reports of these projects were presented at EALTA (Assessing Writing-SIG) and LTRC conferences in 2014 and were then published in Papers in Language Testing and Assessment (PLTA), Assessing Writing, and an edited volume. His recent monographs on research methodology are: The Routledge Encyclopedia of Research Methods in Applied Linguistics ( published by Routledge in 2016 and Mixed Methods Research in Language Teaching and Learning ( published by Equinox in 2017.

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