Listening subskills and metacognitive strategies in a diagnostic English language assessment

Jeremy GRAY, Wai Lan Winnie SHUM, Yuanyuan Gwendoline GUAN

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsAbstractpeer-review


One of the main aims of a diagnostic language assessment is to provide useful feedback on the test-takers’ strengths and weaknesses in the target language. Research into the cognitive subskills involved in L2 users’ language skills, such as listening and reading, provides a basis on which these subskills can be diagnosed. Although existing diagnostic tests are arguably able to identify areas of relative strength and weakness of the L2 learners, there is little in the way of specifically identifying the steps the learners can take towards improving their areas of weakness. In view of this, the current research aims to explore the possibility of relating the listening subskills tested in the Diagnostic English Language Tracking Assessment (DELTA) to known listening metacognitive strategies. The rationale underlying this is that various studies have shown the positive influence of metacognitive strategies on learners’ language ability (e.g., Vandergift, 2003; Chamot, 2005). If the metacognitive strategies involved in a specific listening subskill can be more clearly identified, better feedback can be given to learners in terms of the resources, strategies and learning plans they can use, thus improving the effectiveness of the diagnostic feedback that they receive. In order to probe into these issues, the Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ), developed and validated by Vandergrift et al (2006), was administered to students immediately after they took the DELTA. Students with high, medium and low DELTA measures (i.e. overall proficiency) were interviewed to seek a deeper understanding of the cognitive subskills they employed while answering the listening questions. The Correlation of students’ MALQ results and their DELTA listening scores was analyzed first to explore how students’ metacognitive strategies and their language proficiency might be related. Factor Analysis was then used to test which metacognitive strategies were contributing towards specific listening subskills. The results were then analyzed together with the interview data to look for a more comprehensive interpretation of the interaction between the two. It is hoped that the results of this research can shed some light on whether metacognitive strategies can help to improve the effectiveness of the information provided in diagnostic assessments.


ConferenceThe 35th Annual Language Testing Research Colloquium
Abbreviated titleLTRC2013
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
Internet address


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