ISSN: 1998 - 4162

JISR MSSE Journal Contents

Volume 14, Number 2, July 2016


ANALYZING CHARACTERISTICS OF READING TEST TASKS DESIGNED FOR UNDERGRADUATE LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT
Almas Ashraf - NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Pakistan
Dr. Sajida Zaki - NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Pakistan


Abstract
Language assessment is an integral part of any language programme. It provides the information about people's language ability that carries influential consequences for the test takers and determines their academic and professional future. Consequently, such highstakes assessment must be effective for the test takers and the various stakeholders who use the test outcomes. Testing literature is replete with evidence that language tests are generally of poor quality and do not measure accurately what they are supposed to measure. Several research studies have proved that test tasks influence the performance of the test takers, resulting in testing experts to focus attention towards enhancing the quality of test tasks. Bachman and Palmer (1996) proposed a framework for task characteristics which includes five set of characteristics: setting, rubric, input, expected response, and relationship between input and response. Using this framework, the current study investigated the characteristics of reading test tasks designed for summative assessment at undergraduate language courses which are compulsory components of study programmes across all disciplines and with reading being a significant part of the syllabus and also of the summative assessment. Thirty exam papers within the domain of English for general purposes were collected from different public and private sector universities for the analysis of reading tasks. The findings of the study shed light on the existing weaknesses in the design of reading test tasks and their potential impact on the test takers' performance.

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