The University of Arizona

C'EST COOL! FRENCH STUDENTS ENGAGE IN A COLLABORATIVE, COMPUTER-MEDIATED FINAL EXAM: A CASE STUDY

Lisa A. Jurkowitz

Abstract


While personalized, meaningful communicative tasks abound in today’s foreign language classroom, the tests that students are given generally do not demand that they demonstrate the ability to engage in authentic interactions in the target language.  One way of bridging this gap between communicative teaching and testing is to use computer-mediated communication (CMC).  Thus far, however, CMC studies have only focused on its use as a classroom activity, highlighting the positive effects CMC has on students' communicative abilities, patterns of participation, and motivation.  No published research to date has further utilized CMC as an assessment tool.  This case study therefore examines computermediated dialogue as a measure of foreign language proficiency.  Two intermediate university-level French students engaged in an on-line discussion in order to assess their communicative language abilities.  Additionally, the students participated in the creation of their own grading criteria for the assessment, as well as evaluated the computerized test in an open-ended questionnaire.  A transcript of the pair’s interactions was qualitatively analyzed for language complexity.  The students’ grading criteria were compiled and are presented in narrative form.  Finally, their responses were analyzed for common thematic strands.  Results show that computer-mediated interaction may hold promising potential in its ability to bring foreign language testing, at least in the area of writing, closer to the field’s communicative goals.

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