Adolescent test-taker characteristics
A qualitative validation study of a Chinese language reading examination in Singapore
Keywords:Adolescent test-taker characteristics, qualitative research, test validation, literacy assessment, motivation
This qualitative validation study investigates the characteristics and needs of adolescent test-takers sitting the reading paper of the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary-Level Chinese Language Examination (GCE 1160). Specifically, evidence gathered through semi-structured interview and document analysis was organised around the following three issues: adolescence and adolescent literacy; reading motivation, interests and authenticity; and new technologies and reading literacy. Findings from the analysis suggest that Singaporean adolescents are generally becoming less motivated to read extensively in the Chinese language, seemingly the direct result of digital technologies and heavy homework loads. It also appeared that motivation to read is connected to the relevance and appeal of texts available as well as the perceived value of reading in securing better education and job opportunities. Another pattern illustrated by the study was that the internet is the defining technology for literacy and learning for Singaporean adolescents. Whilst evidence suggested that the GCE 1160 reading examination is designed with adequate knowledge of adolescence and adolescent literacy, several threats to validity were identified, including the relatively low appeal of the passages to test-takers, and their relevance, authenticity and sensitivity to new technologies and reading literacy. Drawing on a socio-cognitive validation framework, the study analyses these threats to validity and outlines practical directions whereby policy-makers and test designers might develop the reading examination.
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