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Talk Title: Peer Feedback in an Integrated, Process-Oriented ESL Writing Placement Test
In terms of assessing students’ writing ability, source-based integrated writing assessment in college-level writing tests has become more common, however, only a limited number of studies have examined integrated writing tasks in a testing context (Plakans, 2008; Weigle, 2004). There also has been a growing awareness of and interest in paired and group oral assessment, however, to date not much has been explored with regards to the nature of peer interaction during a writing test. It is generally accepted both in L1 and L2 research that peer feedback provides learners with opportunities to have a more active role in their own learning and enhance the development of learning in general (e.g., Leki, 1990; Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger, 1992). While most classroom research focused on the effectiveness of peer feedback, relatively few studies took an interest in what L2 students actually do during a peer review (e.g., Lockhart & Ng, 1995; Nelson & Murphy, 1992; Villamil & de Guerro, 1996) in both classroom and testing contexts.
Given the complex nature of peer interactions in ESL writing classrooms, it is difficult to predict what impact peer feedback would have in a testing environment, and further research along these lines is warranted. Addressing these issues, my project aims to explore and provide a comprehensive understanding of peer feedback use in integrated, process-oriented ESL writing tests, and the English Placement Test (EPT) at the University of Illinois provides the excellent context for examining these gaps in SLA and L2 research. In this talk, I will present results from a set of data, which discuss test-takers’ perceptions and attitudes towards the peer-review section of the EPT and the nature of peer interaction during the peer feedback process. I will also examine the comparability of the on-campus and online versions (with and without peer feedback), focusing on essay quality and examinee preference among 26 examinees who took both versions within a week, in counterbalanced order.
This study stands to have implications for the fields of second language writing and language testing at large, especially on the development and operationalization of process-oriented writing assessments in a large-scale setting, as a viable alternative to independent writing tasks.