Washback of National Matriculation English Test on Students’ Learning in the Chinese Secondary School Context

| September 20, 2011
Washback of National Matriculation English Test on Students Learning in the Chinese Secondary School Context

Keywords: washback, reading, reading learning strategies, reading skills, high school

Yangyu Xiao
University of Hong Kong
Gerard Sharpling
University of Warwick
Hongyun Li
Xiangfan No.4 High School

Bio Data
Yangyu Xiao is currently a PhD student at the University of Hong Kong and she obtained a MA degree (with distinction) from the Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick, UK. Her research interests lie in formative assessment in second language, assessment and learning, and washback of language tests. Her PhD research focuses on L2 classroom-based assessment within the Chinese high school context.

Gerard Sharpling lectures in English for Academic Purposes and Language Testing and Assessment at the University of Warwick, UK. He has also taught at the Universities of Nantes (France), Birmingham, and the Open University. From 2002 to 2010, he was the coordinator of the Warwick English Language Test. He is interested in humanistic forms of language assessment, and corpus-based approaches to investigating written texts.

Hongyun Liu is an experienced high school English teacher in Xiangfan No. 4 High School, a key high school in Hubei province. She is now the English panel chair of Xiangfan No. 4 high school and the discipline leader of English in the school.

Tests play a powerful role in the Chinese educational system, and exert significant washback on students learning. This study investigates the washback effect of the high-stakes National Matriculation English Test (NMET) within a Chinese high school from the students perspective. It considers, in particular, the washback effect on the process and product of learning from the standpoint of reading strategies and skills. By considering data collected from two questionnaires, a reading test and a series of semi-structured interviews, the study shows that although the development of learning strategies and reading skills is overshadowed by the high-stakes nature of the test, students show an ability to use metacognitive, compensation and affective language 104 learning strategies, and attainment in reading skills, by coping well with the modified authentic texts used as the basis for the test paper administered by the researchers. The current study also offers some thoughts on issues behind the strong washback that emerges in the study, and makes suggestions in regards to bringing more formative types of assessment into the classroom.

See pages 103-129

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Category: Main Editions, Volume 13 Issue 3