Diagnosing English reading ability in Chinese senior high schools

Tingting Fan, Xun Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To diagnose the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) reading ability of Chinese high-school students, the study explored how an educational theory, the revised taxonomy of educational objectives, could be used to create the attribute list. Q-matrices were proposed and refined qualitatively and quantitatively. The final Q-matrix specified the relationship between 53 reading items and 9 cognitive attributes. Thereafter, 978 examinees’ responses were calibrated by cognitive diagnosis models (CDMs) to explore their strengths and weaknesses in EFL reading. Results showed strengths and weaknesses on the 9 attributes of the sampled population, examinees at three proficiency levels and individual learners. A diagnostic score report was also developed to communicate multi-layered information to various stakeholders. The goodness of fit of the selected CDM was evaluated from multiple measures. The results provide empirical evidence for the utility of educational theories in cognitive diagnosis, and the feasibility of retrofitting non-diagnostic tests for diagnostic purposes in language testing. In addition, the study also demonstrates procedures of model selection and a post-hoc approach of model verification in language diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100931
JournalStudies in Educational Evaluation
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Cognitive diagnostic assessment (CDA)
  • EFL reading ability
  • Q-matrix
  • The revised taxonomy of educational objectives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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