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THE CRITICAL TESTER

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Johnny Unger

on 17 September 2016

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Transcript of THE CRITICAL TESTER

Synergies and interdisciplinarity
Eclectic but motivated and transparent
Identify suitable contexts
(Socially) critical studies of assessment
Workshop task 1
What discursive features to analyse...
Option 1:
Working on your own, think about a context you would like to explore further. Discuss with your partner(s) what makes your context suitable for critical discourse analysis, and how it compares with theirs.
Option 2:
Working with your partner(s), identify a suitable context together. Discuss what makes the context suitable for critical discourse analysis.
Typical linguistic/discursive phenomena:

Argumentation & fallacies
Social actors & actions
Transitivity (passives, agency) and nominalisation
Nomination & predication
Metaphor & metonymies
Language Assessment Literacy Workshop
J W Unger
Eight methodological steps
Critical discourse studies basics
For the discourse-historical approach (based on Reisigl & Wodak 2015):

1. Activation and consultation of preceding theoretical knowledge (e.g. about language testing, societal trends, institutional or government policy).

2. Systematic collection of data and context information (various texts, usually institutional, e.g. policy documents, news articles, minutes of meetings, press releases, commercial documents, test specifications, test items, focus groups with education professionals).

3. Selection and preparation of data for specific analyses (careful reading of data and identifying salient sections, e.g. select specific news articles that mention a specific test, find relevant sections of policy documents).

4. Specification of the research question/s and formulation of assumptions (on the basis of a literature review and a first skimming of the data).

5. Qualitative pilot analysis, including a context analysis, macro-analysis and micro-analysis (allows testing categories and first assumptions, as well as the further specification of assumptions).

6. Detailed case studies (of a whole range of data, primarily qualitatively, but in part also quantitatively).

7. Formulation of a critique (interpretation and explanation of results, taking into account the relevant context knowledge and referring to the three dimensions of critique).

8. Practical application of analytical results (if possible, the results may be applied or proposed for practical application targeting some social impact).
THE CRITICAL TESTER
17.9.2016
language above the level of the sentence? (e.g. Hoey)
a 'way of seeing the world' (Fairclough)
'refers to the social practice of communicating as manifested in spoken or written texts' (Wodak 2001)
relation to context (at different levels)
repetition, reformulation, recontextualisation
resultant/related social actions
related attitudes, ideologies, etc.

What is discourse?
Louis Althusser, Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, Roger Fowler, Antonio Gramsci, Jürgen Habermas and Michael Halliday (Titscher et al., 2000).

Critical theory (Habermas) & critical linguistics (Fowler, Halliday)
Discourse analysis (Foucault, Habermas)
Social theory (Marx...)
Origins of CDA/S
Language assessment scholars,
e.g.

Tim McNamara
Charles Alderson
Elana Shohamy
Luke Harding
Discourse(-ish) scholars,
e.g.

Adrian Blackledge
Ruth Wodak
Tommaso Milani
Jan Blommaert
Ingrid Piller
Citizenship language testing


Blackledge 2005
Milani 2008
Hogan-Brun, Mar-Molinero & Stevenson 2009
Extra, Spotti & van Avermaet 2009
Shohamy & McNamara 2009
McNamara & Ryan 2011
Principal assumptions
Discourse and society mutually affect and constitute each other
Discourse is thus a form of social practice
Texts are meaningful units of analysis
Every text is accompanied by a context in complex interrelation
Most texts have an ideological dimension, which can be more or less transparent in its linguistic realisation
Hegemonies are pervasive, relatively stable systems of ideologies that keep the powerful in power and the powerless in their place.
Social wrongs, which are often related to power imbalances, have a linguistic dimension.
Discriminatory and marginalising social phenomena can be exposed and challenged, in some greater or lesser ways, by CDS research and by practical assistance given to marginalised groups by CDS researchers.
This should be connected to language assessment and be ideologically fraught or ethically problematic. You will work in pairs or threes
Please be prepared to share your key points with the whole group
from Page et al. 2014
from Unger 2013, based on Wodak & Meyer 2009
Find some data!
Workshop task 2
Work in pairs/threes. Find some suitable (pre-existing) data for analysis relating to one of the contexts you discussed earlier. Think about which linguistic/discursive features you could analyse, and look through a sample text for salient examples. Please be prepared to share.
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