• Applying the socio-cognitive framework: gathering validity evidence during the development of a speaking test

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; Dunlea, Jamie; University of Bedfordshire; British Council (UCLES/Cambridge University Press, 2020-06-18)
      This chapter describes how Weir’s (2005; further elaborated in Taylor (Ed) 2011) socio-cognitive framework for validating speaking tests guided two a priori validation studies of the speaking component of the Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP) in Japan. In this chapter, we particularly reflect upon the academic achievements of Professor Cyril J Weir, in terms of: • the effectiveness and value of the socio-cognitive framework underpinning the development of the TEAP Speaking Test while gathering empirical evidence of the construct underlying a speaking test for the target context • his contribution to developing early career researchers and extending language testing expertise in the TEAP development team.
    • The effects of single and double play upon listening test outcomes and cognitive processing

      Field, John; British Council (British Council, 2015-01-01)
      Report on a project investigating the effects of playing recorded material twice upon test taker scores and upon their behaviour
    • Exploring the potential for assessing interactional and pragmatic competence in semi-direct speaking tests

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; May, Lyn; Inoue, Chihiro; Willcox-Ficzere, Edit; Westbrook, Carolyn; Spiby, Richard; University of Bedfordshire; Queensland University of Technology; Oxford Brookes University; British Council (British Council, 2021-11-11)
      To explore the potential of a semi-direct speaking test to assess a wider range of communicative language ability, the researchers developed four semi-direct speaking tasks – two designed to elicit features of interactional competence (IC) and two designed to elicit features of pragmatic competence (PC). The four tasks, as well as one benchmarking task, were piloted with 48 test-takers in China and Austria whose proficiency ranged from CEFR B1 to C. A post-test feedback survey was administered to all test-takers, after which selected test-takers were interviewed. A total of 184 task performances were analysed to identify interactional moves utilised by test-takers across three proficiency groups (i.e., B1, B2 and C). Data indicated that test-takers at higher levels employed a wider variety of interactional moves. They made use of concurring concessions and counter views when seeking to persuade a (hypothetical) conversational partner to change opinions in the IC tasks, and they projected upcoming requests and made face-related statements in the PC tasks, seemingly to pre-empt a conversational partner’s negative response to the request. The test-takers perceived the tasks to be highly authentic and found the video input useful in understanding the target audience of simulated interactions.
    • Exploring the use of video-conferencing technology in the assessment of spoken language: a mixed-methods study

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; Inoue, Chihiro; Berry, Vivien; Galaczi, Evelina D.; University of Bedfordshire; British Council; Cambridge English Language Assessment (Taylor & Francis, 2017-02-10)
      This research explores how internet-based video-conferencing technology can be used to deliver and conduct a speaking test, and what similarities and differences can be discerned between the standard and computer-mediated face-to-face modes. The context of the study is a high-stakes speaking test, and the motivation for the research is the need for test providers to keep under constant review the extent to which their tests are accessible and fair to a wide constituency of test takers. The study examines test-takers’ scores and linguistic output, and examiners’ test administration and rating behaviors across the two modes. A convergent parallel mixed-methods research design was used, analyzing test-takers’ scores and language functions elicited, examiners’ written comments, feedback questionnaires and verbal reports, as well as observation notes taken by researchers. While the two delivery modes generated similar test score outcomes, some differences were observed in test-takers’ functional output and the behavior of examiners who served as both raters and interlocutors.
    • Investigating the cognitive constructs measured by the Aptis writing test in the Japanese context: a case study

      Moore, Yumiko; Chan, Sathena Hiu Chong; British Council (the British Council, 2018-11-30)
      This study investigates the context and cognitive validity of the Aptis General Writing Part 4 Tasks. An online survey with almost 50 Japanese universities was conducted to investigate the nature of the predominant academic writing in the wider context. Twenty-five Year 1 academic writing tasks were then sampled from a single Japanese university. Regarding the context validity of the Aptis test, online survey and expert judgement were used to examine the degree of correspondence between the task features of the Aptis task and those of the target academic writing tasks in real life. Regarding its cognitive validity, this study examined the cognitive processes elicited by the Aptis task as compared to the Year 1 writing tasks through a cognitive process questionnaire (n=35) and interviews with seven students and two lecturers. The overall resemblance between the test and the real-life tasks reported in this study supports the context and cognitive validity of the Aptis Writing test Part 4 in the Japanese context. The overall task setting (topic domain, cognitive demands and language function to be performed) of the Aptis test resembles that of the real-life tasks. Aptis Writing test Part 4 tasks, on the other hand, outperformed the sampled real-life tasks in terms of clarity of writing purpose, knowledge of criteria and intended readerships. However, when considering the wider Japanese academic context, a wider range of academic genres, such as summary and report, and some more demanding language functions such as synthesis, should also be represented in the Aptis Writing test. The results show that all target processes in each cognitive phase (conceptualisation, meaning and discourse construction, organising, low-level monitoring and revising, and high-level monitoring and revising) were reported by a reasonable percentage of the participants. Considering the comparatively lower proficiency in English of Japanese students and their unfamiliarity of direct writing assessment, the results are encouraging. However, some sub-processes such as linking important ideas and revising appear to be under-represented in Aptis. In addition, the lack of time management and typing skills of some participants appear to hinder them from spending appropriate time planning, organising, and revising at low and high levels. Recommendations are provided to address these issues.
    • Towards a model of multi-dimensional performance of C1 level speakers assessed in the Aptis Speaking Test

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; Tavakoli, Parveneh; Awwad, Anas; British Council; University of Bedfordshire; University of Reading; Isra University, Jordan (British Council, 2019-09-14)
      This is a peer-reviewed online research report in the British Council Validation Series (https://www.britishcouncil.org/exam/aptis/research/publications/validation). Abstract The current study draws on the findings of Tavakoli, Nakatsuhara and Hunter’s (2017) quantitative study which failed to identify any statistically significant differences between various fluency features in speech produced by B2 and C1 level candidates in the Aptis Speaking test. This study set out to examine whether there were differences between other aspects of the speakers’ performance at these two levels, in terms of lexical and syntactic complexity, accuracy and use of metadiscourse markers, that distinguish the two levels. In order to understand the relationship between fluency and these other aspects of performance, the study employed a mixed-methods approach to analysing the data. The quantitative analysis included descriptive statistics, t-tests and correlational analyses of the various linguistic measures. For the qualitative analysis, we used a discourse analysis approach to examining the pausing behaviour of the speakers in the context the pauses occurred in their speech. The results indicated that the two proficiency levels were statistically different on measures of accuracy (weighted clause ratio) and lexical diversity (TTR and D), with the C1 level producing more accurate and lexically diverse output. The correlation analyses showed speed fluency was correlated positively with weighted clause ratio and negatively with length of clause. Speed fluency was also positively related to lexical diversity, but negatively linked with lexical errors. As for pauses, frequency of end-clause pauses was positively linked with length of AS-units. Mid-clause pauses also positively correlated with lexical diversity and use of discourse markers. Repair fluency correlated positively with length of clause, and negatively with weighted clause ratio. Repair measures were also negatively linked with number of errors per 100 words and metadiscourse marker type. The qualitative analyses suggested that the pauses mainly occurred a) to facilitate access and retrieval of lexical and structural units, b) to reformulate units already produced, and c) to improve communicative effectiveness. A number of speech exerpts are presented to illustrate these examples. It is hoped that the findings of this research offer a better understanding of the construct measured at B2 and C1 levels of the Aptis Speaking test, inform possible refinements of the Aptis Speaking rating scales, and enhance its rater training programme for the two highest levels of the test.
    • Use of innovative technology in oral language assessment

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; Berry, Vivien; ; University of Bedfordshire; British Council (Taylor & Francis, 2021-11-16)
    • Video-conferencing speaking tests: do they measure the same construct as face-to-face tests?

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; Inoue, Chihiro; Berry, Vivien; Galaczi, Evelina D.; ; University of Bedfordshire; British Council; Cambridge Assessment English (Routledge, 2021-08-23)
      This paper investigates the comparability between the video-conferencing and face-to-face modes of the IELTS Speaking Test in terms of scores and language functions generated by test-takers. Data were collected from 10 trained IELTS examiners and 99 test-takers who took two speaking tests under face-to-face and video-conferencing conditions. Many-facet Rasch Model (MFRM) analysis of test scores indicated that the delivery mode did not make any meaningful difference to test-takers’ scores. An examination of language functions revealed that both modes equally elicited the same language functions except asking for clarification. More test-takers made clarification requests in the video-conferencing mode (63.3%) than in the face-to-face mode (26.7%). Drawing on the findings, as well as practical implications, we extend emerging thinking about video-conferencing speaking assessment and the associated features of this modality in its own right.