The Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) is an authoritative centre of excellence in the field of educational assessment.

Based within the Department, the Centre is interested in all aspects of research into assessment in education but especially assessment’s role in public policy and system-level change.

Started in 2007 with a grant from Pearson UK, the Centre has conducted research into educational assessment on both small- and large-scale projects with international reach and impact.

The Centre has worked collaboratively with UK government bodies Ofqual and the Department of Education, and with international universities and agencies from Norway, Lebanon, Africa and Australia.

In 2014 the Centre was been appointed in partnership with Pearson by the Department for Education to administer Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS 2016) in England.

Find us on Twitter: @OUCEA_OX

Selected Publications

  • Lenkeit, J. & Schwippert, K. (eds.) (2018). The Assessment of Reading in International Studies. Special Issue of Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice25(1).
  • McGrane, J. A. (2018). The bipolarity of attitudes: Unfolding the implications of ambivalence. Applied Psychological Measurement.
  • Hopfenbeck, T. N., & Lenkeit, J. (2018, January). PIRLS for Teachers: Making PIRLS results more useful for practitioners (Policy Brief No. 17). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: IEA

Study with Us

Taught courses
Examples of current DPhil projects
  • Kristine Gorgen – Welcoming and othering- elements of othering in civic education for adult immigrants in Germany and the United Kingdom.
  • Diana Ng – The construction and validation of the Primary Scientific Reasoning Test
  • Alex Scharaschkin – Applying methods of order theory and fuzzy logic to model assessors’ judgements of quality, and to explore whether the results can be used to improve the validity of large-scale, curriculum-related assessments such as GCSEs and A levels
  • Own Henkel – What are the odds? Predictive modeling of students’ likelihood of success in blended learning environments.
Examples of past DPhil projects & graduate careers
  • Dr Victoria Elliott – OUCEA’s first graduate was Dr Victoria Elliott. Victoria’s thesis focussed on the decision-making processes of examiners of History and English A level. She successfully defended the thesis in November 2011. After the DPhil, Victoria taught at Warwick University Institute of Education, becoming Course Leader for the PGCE Drama with English. She was subsequently a Lecturer in English in Education at the University of York and has now returned to the Oxford University Department of Education as Associate Professor in English and Literacy Education. Victoria continues to be interested in researching assessment, the ways in which summative judgements are made, and what statements about values we make in the process.
  • Dr Yasmine El Masri – Yasmine El Masri defended her thesis, titled Comparability of science assessment across languages: The case of PISA science 2006, in January 2015, examined by Dr Therese N. Hopfenbeck and Dr Anton Beguin. Her doctoral research investigated the impact of translation on item difficulty in large-scale international assessments. She used various quantitative techniques, namely Rasch modelling and differential item functioning (DIF) to compare three language versions (English, French and Arabic) of the same PISA science test. Dr Yasmine El Masri is now a Research Fellow at OUCEA where she led two projects; the first is the Aga Khan University (AKU) Language Policy Thinking Group project that aimed to provide evidence-based guidance for the development of an AKU Language Policy (completed in September 2017). The second one, an ESRC project funded under the Global Challenges research scheme entitled Using Technology in Science Tasks: Reducing Language Barriers for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (completed in January 2018). She was also recently appointed as a Hulme Junior Research Fellow in Educational Assessment at Brasenose College.
  • Dr Carol Brown – Carol Brown was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in September 2017 for her thesis titled What Motivates A-level Students to Achieve? The Role of Expectations and Values. Her examiners were Professor Robert Klassen, University of York and Professor Steve Strand, University of Oxford. A mixed methods design, employing questionnaires and interviews, was used to explore the relationships between expectations, values and A-level achievement in 930 students based on Eccles’ expectancy-value model of achievement motivation.   It was found that A-levels confirmed aspects of students’ identity but also facilitated changes to their goals and academic skills. Expectations and values were related to A-level achievement. The findings are useful for explaining the motivational patterns underlying A-level qualifications and the findings have implications for enhancing outcomes and narrowing educational gaps in this student population. Carol is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Education at Oxford Brookes University. Dr Carol Brown received the British Psychological Society Psychology of Education Section Early Career Researcher Award at their annual conference in October 2017.
  • Dr Rachel Taylor – Rachel successfully defended her thesis in March 2018 and has been awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Her thesis was titled Early and multiple entry to GCSE mathematics and the implications for examination standards. The research used a mixed-methods approach, comprising three phases. The first (quantitative) phase considered trends in early entry between 2007 and 2011, the second (qualitative) phase considered the drivers of schools’ entry approaches, and the third (quantitative) phase considered the implications of early and multiple entry for examination outcomes. The findings were then considered in light of the implications for maintaining examination standards, drawing on the theoretical literature relating to how examination standards are defined.
  • Dr Natalie Usher – Natalie submitted her thesis in April 2018. Her research focuses on the role of peer assessment in academic writing development. The thesis, titled Learning about Academic Writing through Holistic Peer Assessment used a synthesis of writing, self-regulated learning and formative assessment theories to examine how undergraduate students can learn from giving, as well as receiving feedback on essays. The study focused on the transition between school and university writing. Natalie took her Viva in July 2018 has successfully been awarded Doctor of Philosophy degree. She has now taken up a new position as Educational Development Adviser at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Learning Institute.
  • Christine Paget – Christine successfully completed her DPhil with OUCEA in Spring 2018. Christine’s research was focused on educational policy as intended by policy makers and as experienced by teachers and students.  Mixed Methods were used to address the research questions. Christine’s thesis title was Exploring school resource and teacher qualification policies, their implementation and effects on schools and students’ educational outcomes in Brazil.