Digitally Assessing and Grouping Students by English Level

Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology (TCUST) is located in Hualien County, Taiwan and offers undergraduate and graduate programmes in various fields, including nursing, management and information technology.

TCUST, recognised as an outstanding private university by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, is a premier institution that emphasises research and industry-university cooperation. It has consistently ranked among the top universities in Taiwan and has won multiple awards, including the World Invention Exhibition.

Dr. Pei-Hsuan Lo, Director of the Bilingual Education Centre at TCUST, faced a challenge when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and in-person English tests were no longer feasible.

We asked her what initially made her decide to use EnglishScore as the primary placement English assessment and how our mobile assessment is now used to assess all first-year and EMI students.

The challenge

The Bilingual Education Centre, which works in tandem with the Holistic Education Centre to run the EMI programme at TCUST, also organises compulsory English courses taken by all first-year students. During the pandemic, the department was unable to hold its face-to-face English assessments for incoming students.

EMI classes are also on offer to more advanced students who achieve B2 level or higher, and they need an accurate way of assessing and grouping students into the appropriate course.

“Before implementing EnglishScore, we used LTTC’s CSEPT paper test as our first-year English assessment, but it was time-consuming to organise and mark,” explains Dr. Lo.

The combination of social restrictions and a time-consuming testing process led Dr. Lo to search for a solution to test students’ English effectively digitally.

The action

The language centre turned to EnglishScore as a remote solution for testing.

“A key benefit of EnglishScore is its mobile delivery, meaning all students can take the test easily, even if they live in remote areas. All the results are sent to our dashboard which gives us an overview of each student’s level, progress and motivation, making it a convenient and clear tool for teachers,” says Dr. Lo.

All first-year students were asked to take EnglishScore and those who received lower than A2 level were asked to take a separate test written by the university to determine their level.

“For the more advanced EMI students, we need to quickly and accurately determine their level so we can place them in the appropriate course. With EnglishScore, we’re able to understand students’ ability almost instantly to see if they’ve reached the B2 threshold,” says Dr. Lo.

The result

EnglishScore proved to be an effective solution for TCUST, with the university looking to roll out EnglishScore to other areas of the university, including testing staff members and international students.

Dr. Lo explains that EnglishScore “can help other universities looking to promote their EMI programme and make English testing a better and more convenient experience for students.”

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