Theses Doctoral

Using a Scenario-Based Assessment Approach to Examine the Cognitive Dimension of Second Language Academic Speaking Ability Through the Assessment of an Integrated Academic Speaking Competency

Seong, Yuna Patricia

Strategic competence, or the cognitive resources necessary for utilizing language knowledge, is widely recognized as an essential component of second language (L2) ability. However, research on strategic competence in the context of L2 speaking assessment has been limited, and findings have been inconsistent, making it challenging to discern the nature of strategic competence and its relationship with L2 speaking performance. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to examine the cognitive dimension of L2 academic speaking ability and its role in L2 speaking performance.

In an effort to capture a broadened construct of L2 academic speaking ability through the assessment of a real-world academic speaking competency that calls for the L2 learner’s use of language, topical, and cognitive resources, the current study utilized a scenario-based academic speaking test (i.e., SBEST) to assess the test-takers’ ability to orally present their ideas on a disciplinary topic. The SBEST was administered to 155 adult English language learners. The test scenario simulated an online journalism class, and the culminating task of the scenario required the test-takers’ participation in an online discussion forum. The test-takers were asked to listen to audio-visual materials on a specific topic related to journalism and perform a series of coherently sequenced strategy tasks leading up to the scenario goal. The strategy tasks were designed to elicit and assess the test-takers’ use of eight different cognitive and metacognitive strategies. The performances on the strategy tasks were scored and quantitatively analyzed using a variety of data analysis procedures (e.g., mean comparison, multiple regression, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling) to investigate the functionality of the test instrument and its underlying constructs, explore the nature of test-taker performance, and examine the effects of strategic competence on L2 speaking performance.

The findings indicated that the SBEST is a reliable and valid instrument for assessing academic speaking ability where L2, topical, and cognitive resources are required to effectively demonstrate the target academic speaking competency. The test-takers also exhibited improvement in their speaking performance, especially with regard to their disciplinary topical knowledge, suggesting that the SBEST facilitated learning. Additionally, the results provided supporting evidence that strategic competence is an integral component of L2 academic speaking ability and a significant contributor to L2 speaking performance. Finally, the study demonstrated that strategic competence can be appropriately addressed, operationalized, and possibly even scored in L2 assessments.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Purpura, James Enos
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
October 25, 2023