TitleIs CAT Suitable for Automated Speaking Test?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsImai, S
Conference NameIACAT 2017 Conference
Date Published08/2017
PublisherNiigata Seiryo University
Conference LocationNiigata, Japan
KeywordsAutomated Speaking Test, CAT, language testing

We have developed automated scoring system of Japanese speaking proficiency, namely SJ-CAT (Speaking Japanese Computerized Adaptive Test), which is operational for last few months. One of the unique features of the test is an adaptive test base on polytomous IRT.

SJ-CAT consists of two sections; Section 1 has sentence reading aloud tasks and a multiple choicereading tasks and Section 2 has sentence generation tasks and an open answer tasks. In reading aloud tasks, a test taker reads a phoneme-balanced sentence on the screen after listening to a model reading. In a multiple choice-reading task, a test taker sees a picture and reads aloud one sentence among three sentences on the screen, which describe the scene most appropriately. In a sentence generation task, a test taker sees a picture or watches a video clip and describes the scene with his/her own words for about ten seconds. In an open answer tasks, the test taker expresses one’s support for or opposition to e.g., a nuclear power generation with reasons for about 30 seconds.

In the course of the development of the test, we found many unexpected and unique characteristics of speaking CAT, which are not found in usual CATs with multiple choices. In this presentation, we will discuss some of such factors that are not previously noticed in our previous project of developing dichotomous J-CAT (Japanese Computerized Adaptive Test), which consists of vocabulary, grammar, reading, and listening. Firstly, we will claim that distribution of item difficulty parameters depends on the types of items. An item pool with unrestricted types of items such as open questions is difficult to achieve ideal distributions, either normal distribution or uniform distribution. Secondly, contrary to our expectations, open questions are not necessarily more difficult to operate in automated scoring system than more restricted questions such as sentence reading, as long as if one can set up suitable algorithm for open question scoring. Thirdly, we will show that the speed of convergence of standard deviation of posterior distribution, or standard error of theta parameter in polytomous IRT used for SJCAT is faster than dichotomous IRT used in J-CAT. Fourthly, we will discuss problems in equation of items in SJ-CAT, and suggest introducing deep learning with reinforcement learning instead of equation. And finally, we will discuss the issues of operation of SJ-CAT on the web, including speed of scoring, operation costs, security among others.

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