Exploring diagnostic listening assessment in the classroom
: A Saudi academic context

  • Sohaib Sandhu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Diagnostic testing (Alderson, 2005) has found brief mention in the language testing literature. Research has slowly but gradually begun to come through, though in reality there is still much to be done. Seen as an area of testing that focusses on finding learner strengths and weaknesses, with the potential to aid teachers in providing much needed information to guide them towards appropriate remedial instruction, there is still very limited teacher involvement in the process. Diagnostic research to date (Alderson, 2010) mostly describes the use of sophisticated diagnostic models to extract granular information, very often from tests that were never intended to be diagnostic in nature, and by researchers who may never have ever entered the classroom (Davidson, 2010). Most of the handful of classroom based examples have required the intervention of researchers. Rarely has there been a demonstration of a sole teacher being at the centre of the diagnostic process even in the classroom. This research attempts to assess the feasibility of embedding the diagnostic process into the daily task of teaching, where diagnostic tool development and implementation is teacher-led.

Listening, often seen as a complex receptive skill that is not fully understood by especially classroom teachers, is the skill in focus. A listening diagnostic self-assessment tool was developed and integrated into a traditional listening lesson. Using an action research approach, data was collected twice weekly, over a period of five weeks, ending with interviews of the research participants. The data produced for each listening lesson resulted in class and individual profiles, providing insights into learner strengths and weaknesses, rarely available to teachers. Importantly, the data provides a starting point for teachers to consider appropriate remedial action. Overall, the results indicate that it is possible to incorporate diagnostic assessment, and specifically diagnostic listening assessment into a routine classroom lesson.
Date of Award6 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorHelen P Woodfield (Supervisor) & Talia Isaacs (Supervisor)

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