Can Exams Change How and What Teachers Teach? Investigating the Washback Effect of a University English Language Proficiency Test in the Turkish Context

Asli Lidice Gokturk Saglam

Abstract


This article reports a mixed-method study that examined the washback effect from a locally-produced, theme-based, high-stakes English language proficiency test in tertiary education in a Turkish EAP context. The aim was to explore the extent to which washback on teaching was induced by an integrated theme-based English proficiency test designed to reflect authentic language use in the tertiary education context in Turkey. The data collection involved classroom observations and focus group interviews with 14 instructors from the Preparatory English Language Program (PEP). Classroom observations were conducted using the Communicative Orientation of Language Teaching Observation Scheme (COLT) (Spada & Frohlich, 1995), and data was qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed. Inductive analysis of the transcribed interview data was also used. The findings indicated that both positive and negative test effects were exerted on teaching. In addition to positive washback on materials, this study also found negative washback in the form of narrowing of the curriculum. Findings also implied that although the test had varying amounts and types of washback depending on the particular teacher involved, both content and methodology in teaching are affected. The article concludes by interpreting these results in the light of recent studies on learner washback, discussing implications for teachers, and providing suggestions for further research.


Keywords


Integrated language proficiency test, theme-based language proficiency test, washback effect, washback on teaching

Full Text:

PDF

References


Akpinar, K.D. & Cakildere, B. (2013). Washback effects of high-stakes language tests of Turkey (KPDS and UDS) on productive and receptive skills of academic personnel. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 9(2), 81-94.

Alderson, C., & Hamp-Lyons, L. (1996). TOEFL preparation courses: A study of washback. Language Testing, 13(3), 280-297.

Alderson, C., & Wall, D. (1993). Does washback exist? Applied Linguistics, 14, 115-129.

Azadi, G. & Gholami, R. (2013). Feedback on washback of EFL tests on ELT in L2 classroom. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(8), 1335-1341.

Bailey, K.M. (1996). Working for washback: A review of the washback concept in language testing. Language Testing, 13(3), 257-279.

Bogdan, R. C. & Biklen, S. K. (1998). Qualitative research in education: An introduction to theory and methods. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Burrows, C. (2004). Wash-back in classroom-based assessment: A study of the washback effect in the Australian adult migrant English program. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 147-170). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chen, L.M. (2002). Washback of a public exam on English teaching. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED472167).

Cheng, L. (1997). How does washback influence teaching? Implications for Hong Kong. Language and Education, 11(1), 38-54.

Cheng, L. (2004). The washback effect of a public examination changes of teachers perceptions toward their classroom teaching. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 147-170). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cheng, L. (2005). Changing language teaching through language testing: A washback study. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Cheng, L., & Curtis, A. (2004). Washback or backwash: A review of the impact of testing on teaching and learning. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 3-18). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Clark, C.M. and Peterson, P.L. (1986), Teachers' Thought Processes. In M.C. Wittrock (Eds.), Third handbook of research on teaching (pp. 255-296). New York: Macmillan.

Ferman, I. (2004). The washback of an EFL national oral matriculation test to teaching and learning. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 3-18). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Fullilove, J. (1992). The tail that wags. Institute of Language in Education, 9, 131-147.

Green, A. (2007a). IELTS Washback in Context Preparation for Academic Writing in Context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Green, A. (2007b). Washback to learning outcomes: a comparative study of IELTS preparation and university professional language courses. Assessment in Education, 14(1), 75-97.

Gu, Y. P. (2014). The unbearable lightness of the curriculum: what drives the assessment practices of a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in a Chinese secondary school? Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 21(3), 286-305.

Hayes, B., & Read, J. (2004). IELTS test preparation in New Zealand: preparing students for the IELTS academic module. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 129-148). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Huang, L. (2009). Washback on teacher beliefs and behaviours: Investigating the process from a social psychology perspective. (Unpublished PhD thesis), Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.

Hughes, A. (1994). Backwash and TOEFL 2000. Unpublished manuscript, commissioned by Educational Testing Service (ETS). University of Reading.

Karabulut, A. (2007). Micro level impacts of foreign language test (university entrance examination) in Turkey: a washback study (Masters thesis), Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/rtd/14884/

Lam, H.P. (1994). Methodology washback and insiders view. In D. Nunan, R. Berry, & V. Berry (Eds.), Bringing about change in education (pp. 83-99). Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong.

Leki, I., & Carson, J. (1994). Students perceptions of EAP writing instruction and writing needs across the disciplines. TESOL Quarterly, 28, 81101.

Leki, I., & Carson, J. (1997). Completely different worlds: EAP and the writing experiences of ESL students in university courses. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 3969.

Li, X. (1990). How powerful can a language test be? The MET in China. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 11, 393-404.

Madaus, G. F. (1988). The Influence of Testing on the Curriculum. In L. N. Tanner (Eds.), Critical Issues in Curriculum (pp. 83-121). Chicago, IL: The National Society for the Study of Education.

Manjarres, N.B. (2009). Washback of the foreign language test of the state examinations in Colombia: A case study. Arizona working papers in SLAT, 12, 1-12.

zmen, K. (2011). Washback effects of the inter-university foreign language examination on foreign language competences of candidate academics. Novitas-ROYAL Research on Youth and Language, 5 (2), 215-228.

Perrin, G. C. (2000). The effect of multiple choice foreign language tests of listening and reading on teacher behaviour and student attitudes. (Unpublished PhD thesis) Lancaster, England, Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language, Lancaster University.

Plakans, L. (2008). Comparing composing processes in writing-only and reading-to-write test tasks. Assessing Writing, 13, 111129.

Plakans, L. (2009a). The role of reading strategies in integrated L2 writing tasks. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 8, 252266.

Plakans, L. (2009b). Discourse synthesis in integrated second language writing assessment. Language Testing, 26, 561587.

Plakans, L. (2010). Independent vs. integrated writing tasks: A comparison of task representation. TESOL Quarterly, 44, 185194.

Plakans, L., & Gebril, A. (2012). A close investigation into source use in integrated second language writing tasks. Assessing Writing, 17, 1834.

Qi, L. (2005). Stakeholders conflicting aims undermine the washback function of a high?stakes Test, Language Testing, 22, 142173.

Qi, L. (2004). Has a high-stakes test produced the intended changes? In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: research contexts and methods (pp.147-170). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Saville, N., & Hawkey, R. (2004). The IELTS Impact Study: Investigating washback on teaching materials, In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 19-36). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sevimli, S. E. (2007). The Washback Effects of Foreign Language Component of the University Entrance Examination on the Teaching and Learning Context of English Language Groups in Secondary Education: A Case Study (Masters thesis), Gaziantep University, Gaziantep. https://tez.yok.gov.tr/UlusalTezMerkezi/.

Shohamy, E. (1993). The Power of Tests. Washington DC: National Foreign Language Center.

Shohamy, E., Donitsa-Schmidt, S., & Ferman, I. (1996). Test impact revisited: Washback effect over time. Language Testing, 13(3), 298-317.

Smith, M L (1991). Put to the Test: The Effects of External Testing on Teachers. Educational Researcher, 20(5), pp 8-11.

Spada, N., & Frhlich. M. (1995). Communicative orientation of language teaching observation scheme (COLT). Australia: Macquarie University National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research

Spratt, M. (2005). Washback and the classroom: The implications for teaching and learning of studies of washback from exams. Language Teaching Research, 9 (1), 5-29.

Stecher, B., Chun, T., & Barron, S. (2004). The effects of assessment-driven reform on the teaching of writing in Washington State. In L. Cheng & Y. Watanabe & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research contexts and methods (pp. 53-71). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Taylor, L. (2005). Washback and impact. ELT Journal, 59(2), 54155.

Tsagari, D. (2007). Review of Washback in Language Testing: What Has Been Done? What More Needs Doing? Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED 497709).

Wall, D. & Alderson, J.C. (1993). Examining washback: The Sri-Lankan impact study. Language Testing, 10, 41-69.

Wall, D. & Horak, T. (2007). Using baseline studies in the investigation of test impact. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 14 (1), 99-116.

Watanabe, Y. (1996). Does grammar translation come from the entrance examination? Preliminary findings from class-room based research, Language Testing, 13(3), 318-333.

Watanabe, Y. (2000). Washback effects of the English section of the Japanese university entrance examinations on instruction in-pre-college level EFL. Language Testing Update, 27, 42-47.

Watanabe, Y. (2004a). Methodology in washback studies. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 19-36). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Watanabe, Y. (2004b). Teacher factors mediating washback. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research Contexts and methods (pp. 129-148). Manwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Wall, D. (2005). The impact of high-stakes examinations on classroom teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wesdorp, H. (1982). Backwash effects of language testing in primary and secondary education. Journal of Applied Language Study, 1(1), 40-55.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics

ISSN 2149­-1135
Copyright © Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics

Ejal Editorial | Create Your Badge

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'ejal.eu' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.