The Test of Academic English (TAE) is a computer-delivered test of academic English designed and developed for use at the University of Macau. The test has two purposes: (1) to place in-coming undergraduate and graduate students into courses offered at the English Language Center (ELC); (2) to monitor and diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of students during the semesters of study at the ELC.
The test was developed by Professors Antony J. Kunnan, Cecilia Zhao, and Matthew Wallace, ELC senior instructors Miranda Ma and Alice Lee, the LASeR Group members and Dr. Erik Voss who was an external consultant on the project. The LASeR group graduate students who worked on the project were Christine Liao, Laura Staniute, Kayla Chen, Doris Zhan, Don Yao, Olive Qin, Emma Dong, Coral Qin and Fiona Yang.
The main principles for the design and developed of the TAE included the following: situational and interactional authenticity (for listening, reading texts and writing and speaking tasks), independent skill tasks (listening, reading and writing and speaking separately) and integrated skill tasks (listening-speaking, listening-writing, and writing-reading), and scenario-based tasks based on academic and university life-based scenarios. In addition, as the test is computer-delivered, many tasks require watching audio and video clips, keying-in and typing answers, speaking into a microphone, answering questions using drop-down and drag and drop menus. The platform for the computer delivery was Moodle and several appropriate plug-ins.
A pre-pilot version of tasks and items of separate skill areas of the TAE was administered to three groups of ELC students. Two versions of the full TAE were used in piloting the test in April 2018: (1) computer-delivered and (2) paper-and-pencil. Content and statistical analyses were conducted to understand the linguistic features of the tasks and test performance of the test takers. Coh-Metrix and SPSS software were used for these analyses. Information from these analyses was used to revise tasks and items that were found to be content- or construct-irrelevant, reducing reliability and contributing to unfairness.
The TAE will be administered to all undergraduates assigned to ELC courses in August 2018.