The Graduate Student Instructor Oral English Test (GSI OET) is a procedure for testing the spoken English of prospective graduate student instructors at the University of Michigan whose undergraduate education was at an institution in which the language of instruction was not English. The evaluation procedure is a performance test that consists of four tasks that assess a test taker’s competence and effectiveness in the type of communication typically used by GSIs at the University of Michigan.
Graduate Student Instructors at the University of Michigan
GSI OET Test Format
- Semi‐structured test
- 1 candidate and 2–3 evaluators (senior, junior, and optional faculty)
- Recorded for quality assurance purposes
The GSI OET contains 4 scored tasks:
Task 1: Warm Up
Warm‐up has two aims: to acquaint the candidate with the test format and to engage the candidate in a brief conversation with the evaluators about his/her background and educational interests. Candidates are encouraged to participate actively in the conversation and contribute to the development of topics by offering extended responses (rather than “yes” or “no”) and asking questions of the evaluators.
Time: 3 minutes
Task 3: Office-Hour Role Play
The candidate engages in a problem‐solving situation with one of the evaluators, who assumes the role of a student visiting the GSI during his/her office hours. The “student” seeks advice or guidance about problems related to administrative matters or personal academic problems.
Time: 2-3 minutes
Task 2: Lesson Presentation
The candidate teaches a lesson to the evaluators. Candidates decide in advance on a topic or concept that they want to explain to the evaluators. Candidates choose topics that would typically be included in an introductory level class or lab session in the department that the candidate would be working. A chalkboard or white board is available for use during the presentation. Handouts may be used; PowerPoint and computers may not.
During the lesson presentation, the evaluators ask a couple questions. These questions are similar to those that might be asked by undergraduates. During this task, candidates focus on promoting audience understanding of the topic being taught.
Time: 5 minutes
Task 4: Video Questions
The candidate responds directly to five stand‐alone, decontextualized videotaped questions from undergraduate students, which represent typical student concerns. The recording is paused after each question and candidates respond to the inquiry. There is no single, correct reply to any of the questions. Candidates are expected to provide a reply that makes sense as a response.
Time: 3-4 minutes
GSI OET Rating & Scheduling
Evaluators rate test takers in real time. During the test, each evaluator writes comments based on the evaluation criteria. At the end of the test, the candidate leaves the room and each evaluator independently rates the prospective GSI using the holistic rating scale. Evaluators then discuss the linguistic strengths and weaknesses of the candidate to reach a final rating.
Which scores indicate a test taker is eligible to teach?
A (high pass) Yes
B (pass) Yes
C (fail) No
D (fail) No
A candidate’s performance on the entire test is evaluated and all tasks are taken into consideration. This means that tasks are not rated separately, and candidates do not pass or fail the test based on performance of only one task.
- candidates are not rated relative to each other
- a candidate’s ability to teach is not rated
- a single, final rating is given test reports are sent to departments within 48 hours of test administration.
Scheduling a GSI OET
- Tests are scheduled by the departments where prospective GSIs will work.
- The department arranges test dates and times with Michigan Language Assessment and notifies students of the testing schedule.
- If a candidate has a documented need that requires accommodations, refer to the Test Policies web page.
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Watch a Sample Video of GSI OET
See a full-length video of an actual GSI OET to learn more about taking the test and the role of a GSI OET Speaking Evaluator.
Become a GSI OET Evaluator
GSI OET Evaluator Details
Speaking test evaluators are needed for the University of Michigan GSI OET. This is an excellent opportunity to gain insights and practical experience in the field of language assessment. Evaluators must be willing to commit to two-hour testing blocks during regular office hours. All evaluators must participate in training and certification prior to administering tests. Senior and junior evaluator positions are available.
- Testing takes place in Ann Arbor on the University of Michigan campus.
- The exams mostly occur in April-May, August, and November-December
- Each test takes approximately 20 minutes.
- Evaluators facilitate test administration in compliance with set Michigan Language Assessment protocols, score test taker performance in accordance with set rating scale criteria, set up audio-recording equipment, and pick up and return testing materials to Michigan Language Assessment offices.
Learn More About the Positions
- Master’s degree in TESOL, language testing, linguistics, or a related field
- Three years of experience teaching oral skills to ESL/EFL students in a higher education setting
- Three years of experience assessing oral communication
- Minimum of two years undergraduate education in a U.S.-based institution
- Some background in language, education, ESL/EFL, or English
- Excellent language awareness and oral communication skills in English
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work as a member of a team
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