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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 7: Conclusions, Limitations and Future Research

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CHAPTER 7:

CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH

As outlined in the introduction to the volume, this work was motivated by the need for practical suggestions as to what can be done to improve L2 proficiency assessment practices in the SLA domain mentioned by numerous researchers (Douglas, 2001; Norris & Ortega, 2003, 2006, 2012; Shohamy, 1994, 2000). Following Purpura (2013) and Purpura et al. (2015), I proposed that the argument-based approach to validity (Kane, 2006) can be applied to validate L2 proficiency assessments in the SLA field to improve test validation practices, and I exemplified how it can be done by applying the argument-based approach to validate one L2 proficiency assessment tool for two different uses in SLA research. In particular, I focused on the oral/aural dimension of L2 proficiency and developed and validated an Elicited Imitation Test as a measure of Russian oracy and as a short-cut measure and predictor of oral language proficiency in Russian.

In Chapter 5, I evaluated the Russian EIT as a measurement tool that can be used for controlling initial L2 oracy of the Russian learners in two educational settings, namely the USA and Germany. To validate this score interpretation and use, the main investigations in validation study 1 focused on the scoring and generalization inferences, and I primarily collected evidence about the quality and implementation of the scoring rubric, as well as the functioning of the EIT in general and its performance comparability in two educational settings.

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