Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Development and Evaluation of an Achievement Test for Measuring the Efficacy of Task-Based Writing Activities to Enhance Iranian EFL Learners' Reading Comprehension

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Development and Evaluation of an Achievement Test for Measuring the Efficacy of Task-Based Writing Activities to Enhance Iranian EFL Learners' Reading Comprehension

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present study examined the reliability of an achievement test to measure the efficacy of task-based writing activities to improve Iranian EFL learners' reading comprehension at the intermediate level in a private language institute in Ilam, Iran, namely Alefba language institute. To achieve the goal, the techniques for evaluating reliability of criterion-referenced tests proposed by Brown and Hudson (2002) were employed. To calculate the reliability of the developed test, or using Brown and Hudson's (2002) term "dependability", two coefficients of agreement (ρo) and Kappa (κ) were computed following the appropriate way Brown and Hudson have offered. The results demonstrate that the developed achievement test is a reliable measure to assess the efficacy of task-based writing activities to advance the selected participants' reading comprehension skill. Implications of present findings and suggestions for further research are discussed as well.

Keywords: achievement test, task-based, writing activities, Iranian EFL learners, reading comprehension

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

The focal objective of English language teaching is to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the world awaiting them. Thus, students need a good command of the four major skills namely, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Generally, the field of English Language teaching (ELT) has witnessed dramatic changes throughout its journey towards the most efficient method for successful language teaching. Almost all of the current and traditional methods of language teaching are not free from drawbacks. Even communicative language teaching, as a method employed throughout the world, includes a number of significant shortcomings. In order to acquire the target language effectively, learners need to engage actively in processing the meanings of whatever they hear and read.

Today, task-based teaching method is admired in EFL contexts. It is believed that it is a successful method that can substitute communicative language teaching and compensate for the weaknesses of it (Klapper, 2003). To adopt Willis's words (1998), a task can be considered as a purpose-oriented activity with a particular goal involving students in an attempt to achieve an outcome and finally a product that is appreciated by others. There are a variety of tasks that can motivate students to process the meaning and accomplish a desired goal purposefully since task-based instruction provides them a framework of structures, forms, and words (Willis, 1998).

Reading comprehension as the construction of meaning from text is the major focus of this study. It is generally considered one of the most central cognitive skills (Mason, 2004). Reading comprehension is fundamental to acquire knowledge in different subject areas in both elementary and secondary schools and is an essential prerequisite for prolong learning in adulthood (Alvermann & Earle, 2003). Available findings in the area of reading instruction reveal that emphasizing the traditional approaches and strategies has been the source of many problems. Task-based instruction has been a useful method for teaching different language skills including reading comprehension. Furthermore, one task-based technique recently used for enhancing students reading comprehension is task-based writing activities (Tilfarlioglu & Basaran, 2007).

Generally, language learning entails both conscious and unconscious acquisition of not only receptive skills such as listening and reading but also productive skills such as speaking and writing. To enable learners to do well in the source language, both receptive and productive skills have to be appropriately merged (Doff, 1998; Nunan, 1998; Woodward, 1991). Of suggested methods to merge all the skills for the improvement of language learning is activities coming from task-based writing (Tilfarlioglu & Basaran, 2007). …

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