Resolving Interactional Troubles in Paired Oral Proficiency Assessment in an English as a Foreign Language Context
HIRÇIN ÇOBAN, Merve
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In the last decade, there has been a growing body of research that investigates L2 oral proficiency assessment from a micro-analytic perspective paying close attention to the sequential unfolding of these interactions (Kasper & Ross, 2007; Okada, 2010; Galaczi, 2014; Nitta & Nakatsuhara, 2014). Despite the growing number of studies with a micro-analytic perspective on interaction using conversation analysis, more emphasis is needed on detailed analyses of interaction (Sandlund, Sundqvist & Nyroos, 2016). In an attempt to fill this research and practice gap, this study will describe how paired interaction in an oral proficiency assessment setting is carried out at a higher education setting in Turkey. Using conversation analysis, this study investigates the interactional resources that are co-constructed in paired test-talk to maintain progressivity and intersubjectivity when there is a halt in the interaction. Progressivity is preferred in interaction (Stivers & Robinson, 2006), and progressivity is a must in test-talk since test-takers can only be assessed if they speak. In addition to that, maintaining intersubjectivity or achieving shared understanding is a key element in determining interactional competence (Dings, 2007). Likewise, interactional resources are considered as basis for interactional competence (Young, 2011). To this end, this study aims to contribute to our understanding of learner-learner interaction in an assessment setting and bring implications for future practice with the help of the interactional resources that have been revealed in this research. The study draws upon transcriptions of 100 paired test interactions, each of which lasts approximately 4 minutes. The data was collected at a higher education setting in Ankara, Turkey. The interactions are examined line-by-line using conversation analysis. First, the indicators of interactional trouble are identified, and frequency distributions of indicators of interactional trouble are created to provide a better understanding on the interactional trouble indicators occurring in paired test-talk. Second, a variety of interactional resources that have emerged from this study are identified (transitions to a sub-topic following interactional troubles, formulations of understanding following interactional troubles and collaborative sequences following interactional troubles). The findings show that the deployment of the interactional resources revealed in this study help to maintain progressivity of test talk. The findings also suggest that more collaborative interactional resources help test-takers achieve intersubjectivity in a better way. In the light of the findings, the study provides insights to the concept of interactional competence for future practices of teaching and testing IC. Instructors, curriculum developers, and test designers can benefit from the results of this study.