The main goal of IATEFL’s Testing, Evaluation and Assessment SIG is to serve the community of teachers and testers, and to bring together practitioners in these professions through various activities. One of the means to strengthen the community of assessment-interested English teachers is the TEASIG scholarship, which is granted each year to a successful applicant. Typically, it covers the costs of attending the annual IATEFL Conference including the TEASIG Pre-Conference Event as well as a 12-month membership of IATEFL and TEASIG. Apart from the scholarship funded by TEASIG, each year other organizations (such as Trinity College London and IELTS) offer assessment-related grants whose recipients can – as a rule – benefit from a similar extent of funding. Far beyond being merely financial support to travel to the UK and experience one of the largest face-to-face conventions of English teachers, these scholarships open doors to closer collaboration with the TEASIG community.
The winners are personally contacted by the IATEFL Head Office and the TEASIG Coordinator well before the conference. They are guided into relevant aspects of the event in advance, so that when they arrive at the Conference venue, they know who to turn to for assistance and have already made some friends in the IATEFL world. The assessment-relevant presentations proposed by scholarship winners are included in the TEASIG Showcase and are widely promoted beforehand, with presenters’ bios, photos and abstracts appearing on the TEASIG website and in various social media channels (with the presenters’ agreement). Finally, the winners are invited to participate in the TEASIG Open Forum, during which they are officially introduced and have the opportunity to network with those attending. Scholarship winners can also choose to profile themselves within the community through giving a webinar and/or appearing in a Member Spotlight in TEASIG’s Testing, Evaluation, and Assessment Today publication.
In 2017 (or, in fact, 2016, as the application procedure usually takes place in the year preceding the Conference) I was selected as the winner of the Trinity College London Examinations scholarship and invited to present during the TEASIG Showcase at the IATEFL Annual Conference in Glasgow. The TEASIG Joint Coordinators at that time, Judith Mader and Neil Bullock, welcomed me warmly and showed great interest in my presentation topic: it was one of the first occasions when I gave a talk on cheating and malpractice in language assessment, the theme which later turned out to occupy me professionally for quite a while. Winning the scholarship also brought me an invitation to publish in a special edition of the ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) Journal dedicated to testing, and enabled me to discuss the issues of exam cheating with particular test providers, who might have otherwise been unwilling to talk about such a sensitive topic with a person they did not know well. Following Neil’s offer to give a webinar on this topic, I started to be known as ‘the cheating expert’; I slowly built up a network of contacts and have since stayed in touch with practitioners from all over the world for whom high quality of assessment means, among other concerns, addressing the issues of test security.
When in early 2020 TEASIG called for applications for the vacant position of Joint Webinar Moderator, I immediately applied and soon joined the Committee to support its online services to the testing community at the height of the pandemic in April 2020. Acquiring and communicating with potential webinar speakers, liaising with IATEFL Head Office and other TEASIG Committee members and, last but not least, moderating the monthly events and meeting (online) the audience keen to know more about diverse assessment-related topics – all this has become possible through my successful application for a scholarship over five years ago.
IATEFL scholarship applications for 2024 are now open. The deadline for applications is 4pm (UK time) Wednesday 21 June. For more details, click here. We strongly encourage you to apply for these scholarships and make the most of the opportunity.
Anna Soltyska is a member of academic staff at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany, and coordinates the English programme at the University Language Centre. Her current research interests include task-based learning, teaching and testing of languages for academic and specific purposes, validating writing assessment, and various aspects of assessment-related malpractice. Anna joined the IATEFL TEASIG Committee in her role as a Webinar Moderator in April 2020.