The Impact of input task characteristics on performance on an integrated listening-Into-writing EAP assessment
Subject Categories::X162 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
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AbstractOver the last fifty years, as the number of students studying in English-speaking countries or studying through the medium of English has grown exponentially, so has the market for testing the language skills of these students to ensure that they have the language and skills necessary for tertiary study in English. While traditional tests of academic English have been skills-based, more and more integrated tests are being designed to measure English for Academic Purposes (EAP) both for university entrance purposes and for in-sessional English courses due to the increased authenticity (Bachman and Palmer, 1996, p. 23) and interactiveness (p. 25) that such tests can offer. Furthermore, as more and more teaching moves to a ‘flipped’ or blended model and computerbased testing increases, there is a need to ascertain how to best provide input for both testing and teaching. Traditionally, listening comprehension has been audio-only and tests have consequently used audio only input. However, the broader range of possibilities offered by technological developments means that offering video-based input as an alternative to audio only is now perfectly feasible. This raises the question of how to ‘test for best’ (Weir, 2005, p. 54). A number of studies have investigated audio versus video or multimedia listening comprehension tests. Similarly, much research has been done into reading-into-writing or listening and reading-into-writing, yet very little has been done on integrated listening-into-writing. This study aimed to address that gap in the research by investigating the impact of audio versus video input on performance on an integrated EAP listening-into-writing test. In the study, participants were exposed to a lecture which was divided in half and presented in both audio and video formats in a counterbalanced measures design. The quantitative findings of this study revealed that there was a significant difference in scores between the audio first group, which was exposed to the audio input in the first half of the lecture, and the video first group, which was exposed to the audio input in the second half of the lecture, while there was only a small, non-significant difference between the two groups when exposed to the video input. A follow-up textual analysis broadly supported these findings. In line with findings from Cumming et al. (2005a), the quantitative analyses suggest that higher level learners tended to paraphrase more of the input while the lower-intermediate and intermediate learners generated both paraphrased and verbatim reproductions of the input. The very low levels learners appeared unable to make very much use of the input yet students from both groups reproduced large numbers of word-level matches from the PowerPoint slides when they had access to the video input. While there was no clear preference for one or other of the input formats, around 40 per cent of students expressed a preference for video while around 20 per cent said that they preferred audio only as the video was distracting. This supports the findings of Chen, Wang and Xu. (2014, p. 57). The research has highlighted several areas for future research but also has important implications for the construct of academic listening-into-writing.
CitationWestbrook, C. (2019) 'The Impact of Input Task Characteristics on Performance on an Integrated Listening-Into-Writing EAP Assessment'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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