Vol. 3:1 (2014) ► pp.101–108
Raters’ social considerations in the essay rating process
The case of Chinese assessors of high-stake exam essays written in English
The social cognitive view on essay rating process argues that human essay rating is constrained by a series of the measures issued by the test institution. However, studies of the institutional constraints all focused on text quality relevant factors interfering into the rating process. Text quality irrelevant social factors remain uninvestigated. Taking the TEM8 (a test for English majors in China) as an example, the present study explores into those factors. Raters’ think aloud protocols when rating essays and the follow up interviews identified a number of text quality irrelevant social factors raters bring into consideration when scoring essays, such as institutional awareness, test knowledge, test taker expectation, knowledge of rating system, ethical consideration and physical condition. The way those factors influence the rating process is further discussed. The results are meaningful both for the understanding of the essay rating construct and human essay rating practice.