The Use of Assistive Technologies Including Generative AI by Test Takers in Language Assessment: A Debate of Theory and Practice

Erik Voss, Sara T. Cushing, Gary J. Ockey, Xun Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Assistive writing tools that provide suggestions for word choice, sentence structure, and grammar correction are allowed as accommodations for students with learning disabilities on a case-by-case basis. These assistive technologies, including generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools, are increasingly accessible to more people than ever and are being utilized for second language classroom instruction and learning. In light of this trend, at a meeting of the Automated Language Assessment (ALA) SIG at the Language Testing Research Colloquium (LTRC) in New York City, a debate took place on the topic of allowing access to assistive technologies including generative AI in language assessment. This commentary, building and expanding on the debate that occurred between two opposing teams who argued for or against allowing students’ access to these assistive technologies during language assessment, extends the exchange of ideas in a written debate. The debate raises issues related to construct definition, scoring and rubric design, validity, fairness, equity, bias and copyright. The debate also speculates on the use of generative AI by test takers at different proficiency levels and different stakes (high vs. low) assessments. The debate ends with thoughts on AI’s impact on language teaching and learning and when access to such technologies might emerge in language assessment. The issues and questions raised in the debate forecast discussions regarding the feasibility of allowing test takers to use assistive technologies including generative AI during language assessment and the extent to which humans interact and collaborate with these new technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-532
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage Assessment Quarterly
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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