The Issues of Task Complexity in Oral Test Tasks

Abstract

Since the introduction of communicative language teaching and models of communicative competence, approaches to testing have evolved. Instead of tests being based on traditional psychometric methods of measuring isolated pieces of grammar and vocabulary knowledge, tests are increasingly focusing on measuring the ability to use accurately and appropriately in communicative contexts. This has led to a growing interest in task-based language assessment. However, tasks used in language assessments vary in terms of their difficulty and the language they elicit. It has also been shown that L2 learners’ performance varies from task to task. Thus, one of the major challenges facing those concerned with gauging the influence of task characteristics and performance conditions on candidate performance is how to determine the complexity of tasks (Elder et al., 2002). Identifying characteristics and performance conditions that determine task complexity is necessary to ensure that appropriate tasks are selected and can be sequenced to improve the reliability of the assessment of L2 oral ability and to ensure that the interpretations and uses that are made based on the test results are valid. This presentation will focus on the research conducted on task complexity so far and it will be argued that research into task complexity has been dominated by research into the effects of manipulating cognitive elements of tasks and has failed to take into account social elements. In fact, this presentation shows how current research into task complexity and oral test task design can be improved through using a socio-cognitive approach.



Author Information
Victoria Clark, Amercian University in Cairo, Egypt

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2013
Stream: Language Learning

This paper is part of the ACLL2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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