Measuring and Supporting Second Language Development Using Computerized Dynamic Assessment


  • Jie Zhang University of Oklahoma
  • Xiaofei Lu The Pennsylvania State University



computerized dynamic assessment, diagnostic language assessment, learning potentials, mediation, second language development, Zone of Proximal Development


This study developed an innovative framework for measuring and supporting second language development through integrating diagnostic language assessment and instruction by incorporating mediation. Nineteen students enrolled in an intermediate Chinese listening and speaking course at a large public university in the Midwest United States took a computerized dynamic assessment (C-DA) listening test in the Spring 2015 semester. The C-DA test differed from traditional standardized tests in that it diagnosed not only students’ fully developed abilities but also their emerging abilities. It offered students graduated mediational prompts for items they had difficulty with and tracked the amount of mediation they needed for those items. The test report also included a learner profile detailing each student’s independent and mediated performance on clusters of items designed to test different language constructs. Based on the results of the diagnostic C-DA test, students were categorized in three groups, and each group was offered instructional support tailored to their listening abilities and learning needs. Analysis of the diagnostic test reports, student interviews, and end-of-semester student evaluations of the course provided evidence that the integration of diagnostic language assessment and instruction that incorporates appropriate mediation helped creating a coherent and effective pedagogy for the students.

Author Biographies

Jie Zhang, University of Oklahoma

Jie Zhang is Associate Professor of Chinese Pedagogy and Applied Linguistics at University of Oklahoma. She conducts research in sociocultural theory and Chinese as a second language.

Xiaofei Lu, The Pennsylvania State University

Xiaofei Lu is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Asian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. His research interests are primarily in corpus linguistics, intelligent computer-assisted language learning, English for Academic Purposes, and second language writing.


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How to Cite

Zhang, J., & Lu, X. (2019). Measuring and Supporting Second Language Development Using Computerized Dynamic Assessment. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 6(1), 92–115.