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Validating Language Proficiency Assessments in Second Language Acquisition Research

Applying an Argument-Based Approach


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 6: Validation Study 2


In validation study 2 I claim that the Russian Elicited Imitation Test can be used for selecting participants for SLA studies, in other words, as a predictor of certain levels of Russian speaking and listening proficiency. The intent is to generalize across studies, therefore a common frame of reference is needed and the Russian EIT might be used as a common frame of reference. Similar to validation study 1, I start Chapter 6 with a section that specifies test use and context. I then report on the development of the interpretive argument for this use followed by the ap- praisal stage of the evaluation of the EIT, which seeks to challenge the interpretive argument. Finally, I discuss the results of the validation study in connection with the interpretive argument developed for the specified test use. 6.1 Test use and context Two examples below describe possible studies in which Russian EIT might be used to select participants to the research experiments on the basis of their (a) speaking or (b) listening skills. (a) In study 1 a group of researchers in an English-speaking university inves- tigate linguistic correlates of oral L2 proficiency in Russian. For this, they would need to recruit language learners of different levels of Russian proficiency. To determine participants’ levels of speaking proficiency, researchers would ideally have an independent test of L2 oral proficiency. Since using an OPI or SOPI is rather time-consuming and potentially expensive, Russian EIT can be used as a proxy measure of Russian speaking...

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