International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Chaos Theory and Language Assessment: The effect of Sensitivity to Initial Conditions on Test Performance
Alireza Ahmadi

Abstract
Few studies have been conducted on the application of chaos theory to foreign language learning and assessment. The present study tried to empirically test the application of one of the fundamental tenets of the chaos theory (sensitivity to initial conditions) to language assessment by studying the effect that changing the first item of a MC test may have on test performance. Twenty Iranian EFL students majoring in English Literature at Shiraz University took part in the study. They were all freshmen who had just finished their first academic semester and were beginning the second semester. They took a MC grammar test of 2o items. After an interval of two weeks they took the same test in different versions. These versions were created by changing the first item that was presented to each student. The first item was; however,  from the same test so that all the students received the same items, though, in different orders. Analyzing the results indicated that 72.21% of the students had a different performance on the second test. The results also indicated that 38.88% of the changes were considerably large (changes of 3 or more points in a scale of 0-20). The results were indicative of the effect of changing the first item of the test on test takers’ performance in line with the idea of sensitivity to initial conditions in chaos theory.

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