Language background and item difficulty: the development of a computer-adaptive test of Japanese

Brown, Annie and Iwashita, Noriko (1996) Language background and item difficulty: the development of a computer-adaptive test of Japanese. System, 24 2: 199-206. doi:10.1016/0346-251X(96)00004-8

Author Brown, Annie
Iwashita, Noriko
Title Language background and item difficulty: the development of a computer-adaptive test of Japanese
Journal name System   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0346-251X
Publication date 1996-06
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/0346-251X(96)00004-8
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 24
Issue 2
Start page 199
End page 206
Total pages 8
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon Press
Formatted abstract
The use of new statistical procedures such as Item Response Theory has greatly facilitated the development of computer-adaptive tests, where the adaptiveness is based on measures of item difficulty resulting from the performance of trial candidates. However, studies into the acquisition of L2 grammar by learners with different Lls indicate that the learners' L1 strongly influences their acquisition of grammar in the L2 [Lado, R. (1957) Linguistics Across Cultures: Applied Linguistics for Language Teachers; Rutherford, W. and Sharwood-Smith, M. (1985) Applied Linguistics, 6(3), 274–282; Zobl, H. (1980) Language Learning, 30, 33–57; Zobl, H. (1982) TESOL Quarterly, 16(2), 169–183]. Thus, it would be expected that grammar test items would present different levels of difficulty to candidates from different language backgrounds. Where a computer-adaptive grammar test is to be used with such candidates it is, therefore, questionable whether set item difficulty measures can validly be used for all types of candidate. The study investigates the performance of students from different language backgrounds, using data from a computer-adaptive Japanese grammar test developed as a placement tool. The trial pen-and-paper test consisted of 225 multiple choice items. Fourteen hundred students in Australia, China and Japan (all of whom had studied Japanese for 150–500 hrs) each completed 50 items. In this study, data is presented from native speakers of English and Chinese. Item difficulties were found to be quite different for the three groups of candidates. This has implications for the validity of use of computer-adaptive tests, in that where actual candidates are from a different background from that of the trial population not only does the test fail to measure such candidates efficiently, but their measures of ability are also affected.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Languages and Cultures Publications
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Created: Fri, 29 Jul 2016, 10:59:45 EST by Ms Katrina Hume on behalf of School of Languages and Cultures