IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE alumnus’s MA dissertation awarded a major prize in language testing

22 March 2019

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) alumnus Chi Lai Heskey Tsang (MA Applied Linguistics) has won the 2018 Caroline Clapham IELTS Master's Award for his dissertation.

IOE alumnus collects dissertation prize

The award is given to an English Language dissertation that “makes the most significant contribution to the field of language testing”.

His dissertation, entitled ‘Examining Washback on Learning from a Sociocultural Perspective: The Case of a Graded Approach to English Language Testing in Hong Kong’, was supervised by Dr Talia Isaacs (UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics). The dissertation was also commended for the 2018 ELT Masters Dissertation Award for its potential impact on English language teaching.

Heskey presented his dissertation and received a winner’s cheque at the Language Testing Research Colloquium (LTRC) in Atlanta, United States.

Dr Isaacs said: “This is an outstanding, carefully constructed, ambitiously conducted dissertation that approaches washback on learning from a sociocultural perspective.

“This is the first empirical study, to my knowledge, that examines washback effects in Hong Kong’s HKDSE-English, a high-stakes test that helps determine test-takers’ career prospects and educational futures. The dissertation moves beyond existing small-scale washback studies to examine intrinsic and extrinsic dimensions by combining qualitative elements with advanced statistical modelling.

“The study argues for the adoption of a fairer, more scientific way to inform test-takers’ decision-making that takes into account their individual differences and seeks to empower test takers’ voices. Congratulations to Chi Lai Heskey Tsang”.



Photo credit: Dr Gad Lim