Date of Award


Degree Type

UG Dissertation (Restricted)



First Advisor

Prof. SEWELL Andrew John


This study reports on a quantitative and qualitative inquiry into the under-researched nature of construct validity in speaking assessments. It looks at the relationship between theoretical construct definition and applied construct operationalisation, focusing particularly on the HKDSE Paper 4 assessment guidelines. Using data collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews with five English teachers from a local English as Medium of Instruction school, it investigates raters’ understandings and perceptions of the level descriptors (LDs). The findings of this study revealed that there is a need for more attention to the choice of terminology used in the LDs, as some of the wordings create ambiguity. In addition, the problematic, notion of the ‘native-speaker’ norm in pronunciation was found to underlie some of the LDs, leading to further scope for confusion. In order to minimize raters’ variations and to shape a common set of understandings towards the LD, more rater training and standardization programmes are also required.

Recommended Citation

Chan, H. K. C. (2018). An evaluation of the HKDSE Paper 4 (Speaking) assessment guidelines: English teachers’ views and other considerations (UG dissertation, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from