Is the devil you know better? Testwiseness and eliciting evidence of interactional competence in familiar versus unfamiliar triadic speaking tasks
Nicholas Glasson, Centre for Research in English Language Learning and Assessment, University of Bedfordshire, UK
Volume 11, Issue 2, 2022
Abstract: Research has proven the impact testwiseness and test preparation can have on speaking test discourse (Lam, 2015; Luk, 2010; Hüttner, 2014). The question is perhaps not whether assessment leads to contrived interaction but how interactions may differ between a more familiar task (face-to-face Cambridge B2 First Speaking) and an entirely new online task. This conversation analytic case study of a group of three in two different tasks (one face-to-face, one online) sought to explore how testwiseness is implicated in candidate talk and to explicate differences in what a more familiar and a completely new task elicited. The analytic focus was on the conversational object “I agree” but includes reference to non-verbal behaviours, turn-taking practices and the relationship between agreement and topic shift. The findings indicate a contrast in terms of closure and progressivity – that is, an observable difference in the closure of topics and the forward movement of conversation – across the two tasks. The data illustrates how the same candidates performed very differently in two tasks in the space of 40 minutes. In so doing, it raises questions about broadening the potential assessments have to target interactional competence.
Keywords: Speaking assessment, Conversation Analysis, Interactional Competence