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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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Appendix G: Improved Scoring Guidelines for the Russian EIT

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221 AppenDIX G Improved Scoring Guidelines for the Russian eIT SCoRe 0 Criteria examples • Nothing (Silence) • Garbled (unintelligible, usually transcribed as XXX) • Minimal repetition, then item abandoned: – Only 1 word repeated (or one word plus not-existing word) – Only 1 content word plus function word(s) – Only 1 content word plus function word(s) plus extraneous words that weren’t in the original stimulus – Only function word(s) repeated noTe: with только, только что, ещё (meaningful adverbs), score 1 – звонит (item 4) “calls” – ей должна (item 5) “she must” – что хорошо (item 18) “that good” – в России (item 21) “in Russia” Моя подруга детей за родителей (item 28) “My friend (fem) children after parents” Она только что закончила (item 25) “She just finished” (Closed word + Adv + lexical word) (score 1) SCoRe 1 Criteria examples • When only about half of idea units are represented in the string but a lot of important information in the original stimulus is left out • When barely half of lexical words get repeated and meaningful content results that is unrelated (or opposed) to stimulus, frequently with hesitation markers – Звонит друг (item 4) “a friend calls” – Иди прямо (item 15) “go straight ahead” – Операция прошла хорошо (item 31) “the surgery went well” – Давай встретимся ночь посуда (item 6) “Let’s meet night dishes” – Экзамен ХХХ ты его написал (item 22) “Exam you wrote it” – Я сомневаюсь только хорошо (item 18) “I doubt only good” 222 Criteria examples • Or when string doesn’t in itself constitute a self-standing sentence with some (targetlike or nontargetlike) meaning (This may happen more often with shorter items, where if only 2 of 3 content words are repeated and no grammatical relation between them is attempted, then score 1) • Also when half of a long...

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