Language alumnus awarded prestigious PhD dissertation prize


A recent graduate who completed a PhD with the University of Bedfordshire has won first prize in an esteemed language assessment industry award scheme with a prize of £4,000.

Dr Alun Roger, who studied at Bedfordshire’s Centre for Research in English Language Learning & Assessment (CRELLA), received the top spot for his dissertation at the LanguageCert Postgraduate Research Awards, which support and recognise the contribution of high-quality research in the field of English language assessment.

Dr Roger’s dissertation, titled ‘Examining the Role of Rater Personality in L2 Speaking Tests’, analysed interview speaking tests and how assessors’ personality traits and testing experience can affect their ratings and perceptions. Based on his findings, Dr Roger proposed a set of useful procedures that could be introduced to training programmes to ensure more valid and reliable test scores.

Speaking about the inspiration behind his PhD research, Dr Roger said: “I have been teaching at universities in Japan since 2006. During that time, I have moderated speaking tests alongside a great many teachers from all over the English-speaking world. Observing, anecdotally, their different characters and the different approaches each teacher had taken to the rating process is what really sparked my interest in this topic. The PhD journey has been one of the toughest things I’ve done but it was without doubt also the most rewarding.”

Dr Roger’s PhD supervisor, Dr Fumiyo Nakatsuhara – Reader in Language Assessment at CRELLA – congratulated him on the award: “Like many other part-time CRELLA students, Alun was a mature learner with a full-time job and family responsibilities. It is enormously rewarding that the outstanding contributions of Alun’s research to the theory and practice of spoken language assessment have been recognised by the research community and it was an absolute pleasure to be part of his PhD journey.”

Last year, the University’s CRELLA research institute was rated world-leading by the Research Excellence Framework (REF), placing it third in the country in research conducted in the field of English language studies.

Professor Andrew Church, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, added: “Congratulations to Dr Alun Roger on this impressive achievement. We are incredibly proud to be a world-leading university in our research in this area and it is fantastic to see PhD students tackling these interesting and game-changing topics while studying with us.”

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