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Using developmental sequences to estimate ability with English grammar: Preliminary design and investigation of a web-based test
|Title:||Using developmental sequences to estimate ability with English grammar: Preliminary design and investigation of a web-based test|
|Authors:||Norris, John M.|
|Advisor:||Brown, James D.|
|Abstract:||The usefulness of open-access, web-based language learning resources can be enhanced considerably by aligning learner skill or proficiency levels with materials, activities, lessons, and other instructional media that are gauged accordingly. This paper reports on the design of an English grammar test for the purpose of making broad initial distinctions among learner ability levels, such that subsequent webbased assessment and learning tools could be articulated to their needs. In order to estimate initial learner differences within a very brief period of testing time, and in a format amenable to the online environment, developmental sequences in the acquisition of English morphosyntax were investigated as a basis for test design. Resulting test items tapped learners’ abilities to apply five word order rules in a variety of linguistic contexts; these items were piloted with 57 English learners, from pre-academic to university-entrance levels of proficiency. Findings indicated that the developmentally most advanced items (testing (a) the cancel-inversion rule in embedded questions and (b) relative clauses) discriminated well among the different proficiency levels in the population sample; in addition, relatively reliable twelve-item tests could be constructed on the basis of the items investigated. In conclusion, recommendations for follow-up web-based test implementation and validity evaluation are provided. Pilot test items and forms are also appended.|
|Appears in Collections:||SLS Papers|
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