IELTS opening plenary at Going Global

Artificial Intelligence in English assessment: what lies ahead?





Date Published

07 February 2024

How can we use AI to make English language tests better without sacrificing integrity, fairness and quality?

This was a question asked by an expert from Cambridge at last year’s Going Global conference. The IELTS team were platinum sponsors of the event which brought together 350 professionals from the world of global education, including high-level leaders and other representatives from the university sector.

IELTS representatives at Going Global 2023
IELTS representatives from the British Council and Cambridge University Press & Assessment at Going Global

AI in language testing – opportunities and risks

Dr Carla Pastorino-Campos, Senior Research Manager, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, presented on the ethical aspects to consider when using artificial intelligence (AI) for language proficiency testing in the context of higher education admissions. She said the sector shouldn’t be afraid of AI, but it’s essential to understand more about the risks associated with ethics, integrity and quality. She also explained how language learning remains very human centred, and stressed the use of AI for high-stakes assessment is in its infancy and that any use of AI (or other emerging technologies) should be carefully considered before implementation. Her comments created a lively discussion on a range of topics, including the digital divide and education accessibility.

Dr Carla Pastorino from Cambridge University Press & Assessment presenting on Generative AI at Going Global 2023.
Dr Carla Pastorino-Campos, Senior Research Manager, Cambridge University Press & Assessment

The evolving landscape of higher education

‘The higher education landscape is evolving so rapidly, and we have to be mindful that AI provides new opportunities and of course some critical challenges,’ commented Dr Pastorino. She continued: ‘We’re looking at how we can use AI and other groundbreaking technologies to enhance tests whilst preserving ethics, fairness and quality. We’re also looking into how we can develop a strong framework for improved language tests using AI in the future. This will allow universities to continue making informed admissions decisions, ultimately shaping the future of higher education.’

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