Trends in computer-based second language assessment

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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Abstract

In the last 20 years, several authors have described the possible changes that computers may effect in language testing. Since ARAL'S last review of general language testing trends (Clapham, 2000), authors in the Cambridge Language Assessment Series have offered various visions of how computer technology could alter the testing of second language skills. This chapter reflects these perspectives as it charts the paths recently taken in the field. Initial steps were made in the conversion of existing item types and constructs already known from paper-and-pencil testing into formats suitable for computer delivery. This conversion was closely followed by the introduction of computer-adaptive tests, which aim to make more, and perhaps, better, use of computer capabilities to tailor tests more closely to individual abilities and interests. Movement toward greater use of computers in assessment has been coupled with an assumption that computer-based tests should be better than their traditional predecessors, and some related steps have been taken. Corpus linguistics has provided tools to create more authentic assessments; the quest for authenticity has also motivated inclusion of more complex tasks and constructs. Both these innovations have begun to be incorporated into computer-based language tests. Natural language processing has also provided some tools for computerized scoring of essays, particularly relevant in large-scale language testing programs. Although computer use has not revolutionized all aspects of language testing, recent efforts have produced some of the research, technological advances, and improved pedagogical understanding needed to support progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-242
Number of pages15
JournalAnnual Review of Applied Linguistics
Volume25
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 18 2005
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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