The Complexities of Complexity: Ways and Reasons to Measure Complexity in L2 Writing


There are many ways to measure students’ written second language (L2) performance and one way to measure it is using complexity, accuracy and fluency (CAF). Teachers rarely use these measures; however, these measures are often used in L2 acquisition research. Research on CAF measures began in the 1980s when researchers started to point out a difference between fluent and accurate language use and complexity was later to appear, in the 90s. Out of these three proficiency measures, complexity is usually is the least straightforward, complex and can be measured and defined in different ways. Choosing which definition and measurement of complexity to use is an issue for researchers, since various ones coexist. This article will examine the way researchers have measured complexity and point out the advantages, disadvantages and controversies relating to these measures. It will attempt to propose the most up to date way and useful ways of measuring complexity that would be the most appropriate for those researching L2 writing performance. Finally, it will present some reasons why measuring complexity is important for researchers and also teachers.

Author Information
Laurence Craven, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2023
Stream: Teaching and Learning

This paper is part of the ACAH2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Craven L. (2023) The Complexities of Complexity: Ways and Reasons to Measure Complexity in L2 Writing ISSN: 2186-229X – The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2023 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon