Fairness in Oral Language Assessment: Training Raters and Considering Examinees’ Expectations

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 English Language Department, Faculty of Medicine, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran.

2 Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran.


This study examined the effect of rater training on promoting inter-rater reliability in oral language assessment. It also investigated whether rater training and the consideration of the examinees’ expectations by the examiners have any effect on test-takers’ perceptions of being fairly evaluated. To this end, four raters scored 31 Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ oral performance on the speaking module of the IELTS in two stages (i.e. pre- and post-training stage). Furthermore, following Kunnan’s (2004) Test Fairness Framework, a questionnaire on fairness in oral language assessment was developed, and after pilot testing and validating, it was administered to the examinees at both stages. The examinees’ expectations were taken into account in the second round of the speaking test. The results indicated that rater training is likely to promote inter-rater reliability and, in turn, enhances the fairness of the decisions made based on the test scores. It was also concluded that considering students’ expectations of a fair test would improve their overall perceptions of being fairly evaluated. The results of this study sought to provide second language teachers, oral test developers, and oral examiners and raters with useful insights into addressing fairness-related issues in oral assessment.