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Validating Language Proficiency Assessments in Second Language Acquisition Research

Applying an Argument-Based Approach

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Anastasia Drackert

The book introduces the reader to an argument-based approach to validity as a way to improve test validation in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research. Motivated by the need for practical suggestions for raising proficiency assessment standards in SLA research, it exemplifies the approach by validating two distinct score interpretations for a new Russian Elicited Imitation Test (EIT). Two empirical investigations with 164 Russian learners in the USA and Germany were conducted to evaluate the accuracy of the score interpretations associated with two distinct test uses. The EIT proved to constitute a reliable and valid instrument for differentiating between a wide range of oracy skills. The proposed cut scores enabled prediction of several levels of speaking and listening proficiency. The author concludes with implications for using the argument-based approach for validating assessments in SLA research, for the use of the developed Russian EIT, and for future research on Elicited Imitation Tests in general.

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ChApTeR 1: InTRoDUCTIon...............................................................................................21 1.1 Assessment of second language (L2) proficiency in SLA research ..........21 1.2 Review of proficiency assessment in SLA research ...................................22 1.3 The challenge of L2 proficiency assessment in SLA research ...................25 1.4 Responding to the challenge: The current volume ....................................27 1.5 Outline of the book ........................................................................................28 ChApTeR 2: SeConD lAnGUAGe pRofICIenCY ..................................................31 2.1 Models of language proficiency and competence: Conceptualizations from educational assessment .....................................31 2.2. Development of L2 proficiency ....................................................................34 2.2.1 L2 Proficiency levels .............................................................................. 35 2.2.2 Complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF) measures ........................ 37 2.3 Language proficiency: Psycholinguistic conceptualizations ....................39 2.3.1 Levelt’s (1989) model of language production ................................... 40 2.3.2 Hulstijn’s (2007, 2011, 2015) model of L2 proficiency ...................... 42 2.4 L2 Proficiency: Bridging the gap between disciplines ...............................44 2.5 Summary: L2 proficiency construct in the publication ............................46 ChApTeR 3: elICITeD IMITATIon ...................................................................................49 3.1 How does the Elicited Imitation Test (EIT) work? ....................................50 3.2 Concerns about the Elicited Imitation format ...........................................52 3.3 Types of Elicited Imitation Tests ..................................................................54 3.4 Scoring procedures ........................................................................................55 10 3.5 Sources of difficulty .......................................................................................57 3.6 Overview of EIT validation studies .............................................................59 3.6.1 EIT as a measure of communicative competence ............................. 59 3.6.2 EIT as a measure of implicit knowledge of particular structures .... 60 3.6.3 EIT as a measure of global oral language proficiency ....................... 62 3.6.3.1 EIT as a measure of global language proficiency ................. 62 3.6.3.2 EIT as a measure of L2 oral proficiency................................ 63 3.7 Summary .........................................................................................................65 ChApTeR 4: VAlIDITY eVAlUATIon ..............................................................................69 4.1 Earlier conceptualizations of validity (Trinity model) ..............................69 4.1.1 Criterion model ..................................................................................... 69 4.1.2 Content model...

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