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Evaluating Tests of Second Language Development

A Framework and an Empirical Study

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Khaled Barkaoui

The book introduces a framework for examining the validity of tests that aim to assess second-language (L2) proficiency development over time and/or in relation to L2 instruction. It also reports the findings of a longitudinal study that aimed to examine the sensitivity to change of a test of L2 proficiency development. Specifically, the study examined changes over time in Progress scores and the linguistic characteristics of essays written in response to Progress by learners who took the test before, during and after a period of L2 instruction in different countries. The book furthers our understanding of the nature of L2 proficiency as it develops over time and in relation to L2 instruction and provides a framework that can be used in future endeavours to design and validate tests of L2 proficiency development. The book is intended for graduate students, test developers, and researchers doing research in applied linguistics and L2 assessment.

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Chapter 4: Research Questions and Method

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Chapter 4Research Questions and Method

This study addresses Stage 2 questions in Fuchs’s (2004) framework. Specifically, it adopted a longitudinal approach to examine changes over time in Progress overall and skills scores as well as changes in the linguistic characteristics of essays written in response to the Progress essay question by learners who took the test three times, at the beginning, middle and end of a period of English language study. The study addressed four sets of research questions. The first set of questions focused on changes in Progress overall and skills scores:

1.What are the rate and shape of change in Progress overall and skills scores over time?

2.Does the rate of change in Progress overall and skills scores over time vary across learners?

3.To what extent do test level and country contribute to (a) variability in Progress overall and skills scores at the beginning of a course (i.e., cross-sectionally) as well as (b) changes in Progress overall and skills scores over time (i.e., longitudinally)?

The second set of questions focused on changes in Progress essay scores:

4.What are the rate and shape of change in Progress essay scores over time?

5.Does the rate of change in Progress essay scores over time vary across learners?

6.To what extent do test level and country contribute to (a) variability in Progress essay scores at the beginning of a course (i.e., cross-sectionally)...

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