An ELT Glossary : Construct validity

  • Definition : A quality of an effective test. If a language test has construct validity, it reflects an accepted theory of language use and tests only the subskills/competencies that would naturally be involved.

  • Example : Dictation as a test of listening comprehension lacks construct validity as a) it involves a number of skills not generally needed when listening - ie the ability to retain the exact words used, the ability to write and to spell; b) it is generally carried out under conditions which are quite different to those generally required when listening - the words being dictated are repeated more than once,; they are pronounced clearly and slowly; they are delivered in short chunks etc. This is quite different from the normal listening situation where the listener has to decode the stream of speech in real time, hears it once only etc

  • Other types of validity important for EFL testing include content validity (whether the test focuses on what has been taught), predictive validity (whether the test identifies accurately whether the learner would be able to cope linguistically with a real life situation), concurrent validity (whether the results obtained agree with those obtained by another test already considered to be valid), and face validity (whether the test users believe that it is a "good" test).