The purpose of the Assessment Research Grants is to contribute, in parallel with internal British Council research activities, to innovation in assessment practice, as well as to the validation of Aptis and other British Council language assessment projects.
The research agenda upon which the grants are premised is based on the modified socio-cognitive validation framework (O’Sullivan & Weir, 2011; O’Sullivan, 2014, Chalhoub-Deville and O’Sullivan, 2020) in particular, on the most recent modifications. The use of alternative validation frameworks that also contribute evidence of the validity of British Council assessments will also be considered. The goal of this research agenda is to build a significant body of substantive evidence of the validity of British Council assessments and contribute to innovation in language assessment development in general.
Projects which are more exploratory in nature and utilise instruments other than Aptis will be considered provided the proposer can demonstrate strong potential for impact in the field of language assessment.
Projects will generally be 12-18 months in duration but, in exceptional circumstances, projects lasting up to 24 months will also be considered.
Who can apply?
Educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply. In order to foster our relationship with partners, we will also encourage applications from test users interested in understanding how British Council tests impact on their institution. Please note that regardless of the geographical location of applicants and regardless of where the actual research will take place, all contracts for research projects issued by the British Council are subject to the laws of England and Wales; this is non-negotiable.
The Principal Investigator must be associated with an educational institution or recognised research organisation, similar in standing to the institutions recognised by UKRI.
The research grants support researchers around the world in conducting and disseminating the highest quality research.
Financial support for individual projects will, in principle, be limited to a maximum of £25,000, although it is expected that projects requesting financial support in the region of £15,000 to £20,000 will be most positively considered. Please note that grants will be evaluated based on value-for-money in the given context.
Applications for extensive travel or large items of equipment will not be supported. N.B. Applications should NOT at this stage include requests for funding for conference presentations; if completion of the research project results in acceptance of a paper at an international conference, the British Council will consider supporting the attendance of one of the authors through a separate application.
Areas of interest for 2022
The following seven areas are of particular interest to the British Council in 2022:
NEW CONSTRUCTS AND TASK TYPES
- Innovative approaches to the use of technology in discrete skill and integrated task design
- Defining and operationalising plurilingual competences
- Operationalising the construct of mediation
- Multimodal approaches to integrated skills assessmen
TEST PRODUCTION INFRASTRUCTURE
- Innovative approaches to item production, pretesting, item banking, calibration and quality assurance (possibly using simulation and AI)
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT AND IMPACT
- Methods of feedback at group and / or individual level*
- Qualitative perceptions of tests by different stakeholders
- EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) in language testing and assessment
- Stakeholder communications
- Test impact on a range of stakeholders
- Test washback
* British Council has a feedback framework related to Aptis and investigations relating to the framework and its feasibility would be welcome. Access to the framework can be provided for the purposes of such a project further to signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Applying the latest iteration of the Socio-Cognitive model (Chalhoub-Deville and O’Sullivan, 2020) to different contexts of use
- Implications of remote invigilation for online assessments (e.g. on test taker anxiety, security, accessibility, etc.)
- Evaluations of different remote proctoring models
CORPUS-BASED APPROACHES TO TEST VALIDATION
- We invite proposals that seek to make use of the British Council Lancaster Aptis Corpus. (This is the Aptis spoken corpus of test-taker responses elicited through the Aptis speaking test.)
KNOWLEDE-BASED VOCABULARY LISTS (KVL)
Potential applications for the KVL (Schmitt, Dunn, O’Sullivan, Anthony, & Kremmel, 2022) in a range of contexts, e.g., test development, language teaching, materials creation, syllabus design. For more information on the KVL, see: https://www.britishcouncil.org/exam/aptis/aptis-expertise/knowledge-based-vocabulary-lists-kvl
Consideration will also be given to other issues of current interest in the fields of applied linguistics and second language acquisition in relation to language assessment.