Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2666-1748
  • E-ISSN: 2666-1756
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This study explored the role of cognitive task complexity in designing speaking assessment tasks. A sample of 120 English learners at different proficiency levels engaged in four narrative tasks with distinct levels/types of cognitive complexity. Performances were assessed using linguistic measures and a task accomplishment rubric. Findings revealed that one of the middle-complexity tasks with moderate intrinsic, moderate germane, and low extraneous complexity elicited the best linguistic performances overall, while the lowest complexity task elicited the highest task accomplishment ratings. Focusing on distinguishing among learner abilities, however, the highest complexity task demonstrated the best discrimination. Cognitive task complexity was also found to moderate the relationship between task accomplishment ratings and linguistic measures. Implications for research into task design, learner performance, and assessment purpose are considered.


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