Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Task Based Language Performance Assessment and Cognition Hypothesis

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Task Based Language Performance Assessment and Cognition Hypothesis

Article excerpt


Task-based language assessment (TBLA) is a special issue in language testing. The central notion in TBLA is some meaningful and real life situation based activities that require learners to be engaged in communicative situations which is the fundamental point in the administration of particular tests. McNamara (1996) added language performance assessment to the concept of tasks in testing domains. Long and Norris (2000) indicated that task-based differs from other forms of performance assessment by putting that - [T]ask-based language assessment takes the task itself as the fundamental unit of analysis motivating item selection, test instrument construction, and the rating of task performance. Task-based assessment does not simply utilize the real-world task as a means for eliciting particular components of the language system, which are then measured or evaluated; instead, the construct of interest is performance of the task itself" (p. 60).

Brindley (1994) stated that task-based assessment can be applied for some specific purposes in the context of foreign and second language education. In other words, English for Specific Purposes (ESP), English for Academic Purposes (EAP) are proposed in conjunction with task-based assessment according to which language teachers and researchers tend to motivate the learners to accomplish particular tasks or task types with the language as a tool they have been learning.

Performance assessment means any assessment stages that involve real world situations or a simulation of a real-life activity with raters to evaluate the performance (Bachman, 2002; Norris, Brown, Hudson, & Yoshioka, 1998; Norris, Hudson, & Bonk, 2002; Weigle, 2002). Therefore, performance assessment is different from traditional tests in that students' communicative ability and their general ability to survive outside the classroom context and beyond the formal testing situation is of significant importance. Open tasks are used by test takers to provide them with opportunity so as to use the language outside the classroom context (Chalhoub-Deville, 2001). Moreover, using open tasks provide the students with the chance to use their own background knowledge and experiences. However, using tasks for assessment does not simply mean replicating real-life activities and then asking test-takers to perform. There are several key issues to take into account when designing and scoring task-based assessment.

Students must be trained to increase the efficacy of tasks and performance in TBLPA. Ortega (2007) stated that one way to do this is to increase learner focus and attention during performance based assessment. He further argues that language learning is fostered when learners concurrently attend to meaning and form and values the existence of tasks in meaningful learning. The Cognition Hypothesis indicates that being involved in complex tasks will facilitate L2 learning by enhancing interaction, focus on form, and attention to more complex linguistic structures (Robinson, 2001a, 2001b, 2005).

Robinson (2001a, 2001b, 2003, 2005) introduced three sources of cognitive demands in a task. First one is task complexity which relates to the design of a task. Second one is task conditions which refers to the interactional factors in line with participation. Third one is task difficulty which is in line with affective filters such as motivation, anxiety, stress, and etc.

Kim (2009) identified two dimensions in in task complexity, namely resources-directing and resource-dispersing:

Many previous studies in line with cognition hypothesis concentrated on the impact of task complexity on the production of second language. Gilabert (2007) stated that most of these studies have come up with the conclusion that complex tasks increase second language production due to enhancing attention and focus on form. Learning something in EFL/ESL context in a real life situation and in a meaningful way will be beneficial to learning, and improving this exercise is taken one of the crucial point. …

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