ON THE COMPARABILITY OF PAPER-BASED AND COMPUTER-BASED ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION TESTS A Study of High-Stakes English Reading Assessment
Abstract: The Swedish National Test will be digitalised by 2022 according to the government bill “Prop.2017/18:14. This study addressed the transition of high-stakes English reading comprehension tests from paper-based to computer-based test and examined whether a new delivery mode from an assessment and a measurement point of view can be regarded as equivalent to the traditional paper-based test. Theory: The study was based on Classical test theory and Language testing theory. Method: The empirical basis for this quasi-experimental study consisted of data from large-scale pilot studies carried out for future English high-stakes tests for year 9 in Swedish compulsory school. The database included possibilities to address the question of comparability in a quasi-experimental study where data from schools which were administered the test on computers can be compared to schools which were administered the test on paper. A total of 1275 English students in year 9 participated in the study. As the groups participating were not necessarily equal and comparable before this study, variables to control for some of the initial differences were added. An independent T-test indicated that the groups were comparable in terms of grade in English. Results: On test items requiring constructed responses students in the computer-based test group gave on average lengthier responses compared to the paper-based group, but the difference did not result in better performance with higher scores. Regression analyses revealed that the delivery mode had no general effect on the scores. Results indicated however that boys’ scores increased when the test was computer-based, more so on the shorter reading comprehension tasks than the extensive reading comprehension task. Findings in this study are discussed in connection to future research.
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