Exploring task difficulty in ESL listening assessment

Geoff Brindley*, Helen Slatyer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    70 Citations (Scopus)


    This article reports on an exploratory study that investigated the comparability of listening assessment tasks used to assess and report learning outcomes of adult ESL learners in Australia. The study focused on the effects of task characteristics and task conditions on learners” performance in competency-based listening assessment tasks that require learners to demonstrate specific listening behaviours. Key variables investigated included the nature of the input and the response mode. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of test scores suggest that speech rate and item format influence task and item difficulty. However, the complexity of the interaction between text, item and response makes it difficult to isolate the effects of specific variables. Implications of these findings for assessment task validity and reliability are considered and practical consequences for assessment task design in outcomes-based systems are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)369-394
    Number of pages26
    JournalLanguage Testing
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring task difficulty in ESL listening assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this