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Measuring Oral Proficiency through Paired-Task Performance


Ildikó Csépes

This book intends to provide a theoretical overview of examining candidates’ oral abilities in different examination formats. In particular, it explores specific partner effects on discourse outcomes and proficiency ratings in the framework of paired-task performance. Two investigations, both set in the context of a proposed Hungarian school leaving examination in English, were carried out in order to contribute to a better understanding of the assumed impact of the chosen variables. Study One investigates discourse differences between examiner-to-examinee interaction and peer-to-peer interaction. Study Two explores the impact of the peer partner’s proficiency. The results show that partner effects related to this variable cannot be predicted as either harmful or beneficial since no statistically significant difference was found between 30 candidates’ scores in different examination conditions.


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8. Test Takers' Perceptions of the Paired Oral 131


8. Test Takers' Perceptions of the Paired Oral The follow-up questionnaire was designed to elicit candidates' percep- tions about the paired exam mode from different points of view since the re- sponses were expected to highlight certain aspects of the validity of the paired oral exam in the Hungarian context. The investigation focused on • positive and negative features of the exam format as experienced by the candidates ; • how the peer partner's contributions to the joint performance were per- ceived by the candidates; • potential advantages and disadvantages of the paired mode as suggested by candidates; • what the ideal partner is like according to the candidates. Candidates' responses will be analysed to give an overall picture about the issues listed above (see RQ9 in 4.4.8) and also to highlight the differences between candidates' attitudes in relation to specific features of the exam for- mat that can be related to their level of proficiency. In other words, the fre- quency of responses will be presented according to the proficiency ranking of the candidates. 8.1. Positive features of the paired mode As was mentioned in chapter 7, candidates' attitude towards the paired mode was found to be overwhelmingly positive since 68.3% of the candidates stated that they liked the exam format as opposed to 27.3%, who did not, with only 4.2% of the candidates being unable to decide whether they liked or dis- liked the paired mode. The positive reception of the exam format on the part of the candidates was explained by giving...

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