Effects of Test Modality - Computer-based versus Paper-and-Pencil - on Nonnatives' English Results

J.B. Strother, Z. Fazal, A. Johnson, and M. Millsap (USA)


Testing and assessment for WBE; CBT/PNP equivalence; CBT assessment for ESL/EFL


Computer-based assessment is a critical part of any Web based as well as many more traditional educational programs. While some research studies have established equivalence between Computer-Based Tests (CBTs) and traditional Paper-and-Pencil (PNP) tests, most have not considered language as a variable. It is essential to evaluate Computer-Based Tests (CBTs), especially for populations such as those from other countries, cultures, or language groups. Such populations may not have the same exposure to or level of familiarity with computers and computer-based training and assessment. The current empirical study seeks to determine whether test modalities are equivalent for nonnative speakers of English taking an English proficiency examination. This study tested 57 university students taking English as a Second Language. Half were given an English proficiency test in a Web-based format in a computer lab and the other half were given the same test in pencil-and paper format in a standard classroom. The study confirmed equivalence between CBT and traditional PNP versions of the test for the sample.

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