Assessing L2 vocabulary depth with word associates format tests: issues, findings, and suggestions
Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education
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Word Associates Format (WAF) tests are often used to measure second language learners’ vocabulary depth with a focus on their network knowledge. Yet, there were often many variations in the specific forms of the tests and the ways they were used, which tended to have an impact on learners’ response behaviors and, more importantly, the psychometric properties of the tests. This paper reviews the general practices, key issues, and research findings that pertain to WAF tests in four major areas, including the design features of WAF tests, conditions for test administration, scoring methods, and test-taker characteristics. In each area, a set of variables is identified and described with relevant research findings also presented and discussed. Around eight topics, the General Discussion section provides some suggestions and directions for the development of WAF tests and the use of them as research tools in the future. This paper is hoped to help researchers become better aware that the results generated by a WAF test may vary depending on what specific design the test has, how it is administered and scored, and who the learners are, and consequently, make better decisions in their research that involves a WAF test.
Vol. 2, No. 1.