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Title:Perspectives on the professional development of testing professionals in China — a mixed methods study of the roles of Chinese testing professionals in facilitating backwash effect
Author(s):Sun, Hongling
Director of Research:Greene, Jennifer C.; Davidson, Frederick G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Greene, Jennifer C.; Davidson, Frederick G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Chang, Hua-Hua; Zhang, Jinming
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):testing professionals
measurement professionals
professional development
Chinese testing
mixed methods
complementarity purpose
roles of testing professionals
backwash effect
educational testing
Chinese testing system
testing organization
province-level autonomous test design
expected competencies of testing professionals
needs assessment
test evaluation
educational and social responsibilities
testing culture
Chinese testing reform
international testing
quality education
educational assessment system
educational evaluation system
Abstract:This study stems from my desires to understand the critical role of testing professionals in China in facilitating quality education through positive backwash. This role is critical in contemporary China, not only due to its traditionally high-stakes exam and test-driven education system, but also its recent national strategic educational development plan with a goal to prepare for 21st century talents with critical thinking to support national development and global competition. These reasons, along with the decentralization trend of the Chinese testing system and the insufficient pre-professional training in testing, highlight a need for critical inquiry into the professional development (PD) of testing professionals in China. The main goal of this study was to assess the perceived PD needs testing professionals in China have and the reasons behind them, and to analyze and critique in what ways the PD needs can contribute to a better testing system in China. A needs assessment was conducted via an online survey in a purposefully selected province-level testing agency in China, followed by in-depth interviews with selected testing scientists (survey participants) and key-decision makers (from the testing agency), as well as outside testing experts (i.e., scholars from academic or research settings, or upper-level authorities from the testing agency). A total of 37 testing professionals completed the survey with a response rate of 77.0%. An in-depth follow-up interview was conducted with 11 testing professionals including four testing scientists, four key-decision makers, and three external experts. The researcher, as a Chinese who experienced K-16 education in China as well as western graduate school training, was also used as a participant to analyze the meaning of those perceived PD needs. Based on the integrated survey and interview data, eight salient PD needs were discovered, including: (1) measurement, statistics, and computation, (2) testing research and research methods, (3) making better use of test score information (maximizing test use) and analyzing post-test data, (4) assessment and evaluation, (5) management, (6) educational context of testing, (7) communication, collaboration, personal, and training (CCPT) skills, and (8) social and educational responsibilities. The interview data indicated that, overall, the majority of testing professionals appeared to be motivated to meet their current or future job requirements, rather than to contribute to a better testing system. Further, the interview data supported that reforming the outdated testing notions and values, and adjusting the relationship of testing organizations with the government appear to be the two most prominent challenges in Chinese testing; with them being adequately addressed, it would positively contribute to testing system reform, and thus benefit the next generations’ education, and even national development. I believe that testing professionals are called to hold strong social and educational responsibilities (as their most important PD need) to advocate for reform in these two areas. They are expected to position them as educators and change agents by working out creative ways to reach out to and educate multiple testing audiences. The study ends by reflecting on the complexities of Chinese testing as well as the implications and limitations of the PD of testing professionals in reforming the Chinese testing system.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Hongling Sun
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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