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Title:The effects of task, language of assessment, and target language experience on foreign language learners performance on reading comprehension tests
Author(s):Wolf, Darlene Faye
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lee, James F.
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Education, Tests and Measurements
Education, Reading
Abstract:Current foreign language reading research is disparate in nature. Researchers use a variety of assessment tasks which may or may not be comparable across studies. Some tasks are carried out in the subjects' native language while others are performed in the target language. Furthermore, the population studied does not represent all levels of target language experience, consisting mainly of beginning to intermediate learners. The application of research findings to an educational setting depends very much on the generalizability of findings from sample populations to a general population. If research is to inform curricula and classroom language assessment, then the issue of generalizability must be addressed.
The present study addresses three major issues in the testing of foreign language reading comprehension: (1) the effects of task, (2) the effects of language of assessment, and (3) the effects of target language experience on readers' performance of comprehension tasks.
Seventy-two fourth-semester learners and 72 learners enrolled in advanced language and literature courses read an expository passage and were then given one of the following comprehension assessment tasks: a cloze passage in English (the native language), a cloze passage in Spanish (the target language), multiple choice questions in English, multiple choice questions in Spanish, open-ended questions in English, or open-ended questions in Spanish.
Significant main effects were found for assessment task, language of assessment, and target language experience, with no significant interactions. Scores on the multiple choice tests were generally higher than those on the open-ended questions, which in turn were generally higher than those on the cloze tasks. Subjects tested in their native language outperformed those tested in the target language. Finally, advanced-level learners consistently scored higher than the fourth-semester learners.
The results of study provide relevant information for the development of reading assessment instruments by defining which tasks administered under what conditions adequately and accurately measure the reading ability of readers representing two levels of target language experience.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Wolf, Darlene Faye
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9124507
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9124507

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