This study compared IELTS examiners’ scores when they assessed test-takers’ spoken performance under live and two non-live rating conditions using audio and video recordings.
It also explored examiners’ perceptions towards test-takers’ performance in the two non-live rating modes.
This was a mixed-methods study that involved both existing and newly collected datasets. A total of six trained IELTS examiners assessed 36 test-takers’ performance under the live, audio and video rating conditions. Their scores in the three modes of rating were calibrated using the multifaceted Rasch model analysis.
In all modes of rating, the examiners were asked to make notes on why they awarded the scores that they did on each analytical category. The comments were quantitatively analysed in terms of the volume of positive and negative features of test-takers’ performance that examiners reported noticing when awarding scores under the three rating conditions.
Using selected test-takers’ audio and video recordings, examiners’ verbal reports were also collected to gain insights into their perceptions towards test-takers’ performance under the two non-live conditions.
The results showed that audio ratings were significantly lower than live and video ratings for all rating categories. Examiners noticed more negative performance features of test takers under the two non-live rating conditions than the live rating condition. The verbal report data demonstrated how having visual information in the video-rating mode helped examiners to understand test-takers’ utterances, to see what was happening beyond what the test-takers were saying and to understand with more confidence the source of test-takers’ hesitation, pauses and awkwardness in their performance.
The results of this study have, therefore, offered a better understanding of the three modes of rating, and a recommendation was made regarding enhanced double-marking methods that could be introduced to the IELTS Speaking Test.