June 2006
Volume 10, Number 1

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Timed versus At-home Assessment Tests: Does Time Affect the Quality of Second Language Learners' Written Compositions?

Roger Kenworthy
Ohio University, Hong Kong


This preliminary study examines what the effects of additional time and different media have upon the overall quality of English language learner's written assessment tests. Sixteen intermediate-level students (L1 Cantonese), enrolled at a satellite campus of an American university within Asia, manually wrote a 45-minute timed placement test in the confines of an educational setting. Based upon identical topics provided for this first set of writings, several weeks later these same students were allotted one week to complete a computer-generated essay at their personal residence. Statistical analyses (t-tests) revealed mostly insignificant differences between the frequency counts of selected lexical features found within both sets of writings. By contrast, there were statistically significant differences in the number of reported grammatical errors. On the whole, when compared to the timed writings, the at-home essays were characterized as having fewer numbers of grammatical errors and greater holistic scores which supports the idea that participants efficiently used additional time to affect overall textual quality.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, writing, composition

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