Washback Activity: At the Micro Level

  • Dawn Karen Booth
Part of the English Language Education book series (ELED, volume 12)


This chapter presents a detailed discussion of the results of Chaps.  6,  7 and  8 with particular focus on washback to the learner with respect to: content, strategy use, rate and sequence of learning, attitudes, and degree and depth of learning. As discussed in this chapter, a myriad of factors may interplay with a test taker and a test at different stages of student test activity to influence learning outcomes. Individual test stakes, motives and goals are early factors likely to influence learner action and agency. The type of learning communities and contexts that students participate in as a result of these motives are another key factor. In all, this chapter highlights how the choices learners make within different contexts, at key stages of the washback process, may contribute to how a test may influence learning; and that a more comprehensive understanding of washback is one that considers influencing factors outside of the test itself at pivotal points in the testing/learning process.


Washback Consequences Testing Standardised testing Learner Learning Content Strategy use Rate and sequence of learning Attitudes Motivation Goals Test stakes Degree and depth of learning Outcomes 


  1. Alderson, J. C., Clapham, C. M., & Wall, D. (1995). Language test construction and evaluation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alderson, J. C., & Hamp-Lyons, L. (1996). TOEFL preparation courses: A study of washback. Language Testing, 13, 280–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alderson, J. C., & Wall, D. (1993). Does washback exist? Applied Linguistics, 14, 115–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allan, A. (1992). Development and validation of a scale to measure test-wiseness in EFL/ESL reading test-takers. Language Testing, 9(2), 101–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Andrews, S., Fullilove, J., & Wong, Y. (2002). Targeting washback – A case study. System, 30(2), 207–223.Google Scholar
  6. Bachman, L. F., & Palmer, A. S. (1996). Language testing in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bailey, K. M. (1996). Working for washback: A review of the washback concept in language testing. Language Testing, 13, 257–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Booth, D. (2012). Exploring the washback of the TOEIC in South Korea: A sociocultural perspective on student test activity. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Auckland, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  9. Booth, D & Lee, N. (2016). Learner conceptualizations and washback of the paper-based TOEFL test on student affect at one Japanese university. The 2nd IRI Research Forum.Google Scholar
  10. Breen, M. (2001). Overt participation and covert acquisition in the language classroom. In M. Breen (Ed.), Learner contributions to language learning: New directions in research (pp. 112–140). Essex: Pearson Education Ltd..Google Scholar
  11. Brown, H. (2005). Learner perceptions of TOEIC test results and language skill improvements: I don’t want to study English, I want to study TOEIC. Paper presented at JALT. Retrieved from
  12. Burrows, C. (2001). Searching for washback: The impact of assessment in the certificate in spoken and written English. In G. Brindley & C. Burrows (Eds.), Studies in immigrant English language assessment (pp. 95–187). Sydney: National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research.Google Scholar
  13. Cheng, L. (1998). Impact of a public English examination change on students’ perceptions and attitudes toward their English learning. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 24(3), 279–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cheng, L. (2005). Changing language teaching through language testing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Cho, E. (2010). Washback on the CSAT English test on high school students’ language learning. Unpublished master’s thesis, Keimyung University.Google Scholar
  16. Choi, I. C. (2008). The impact of EFL testing on EFL education in Korea. Language Testing, 25(1), 39–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cohen, A. (2012). Test-taking strategies. In C. Coombe, P. Davidson, B. O’Sullivan, & S. Stoynoff (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Davies, A. (1990). Principles of language testing. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  19. Donato, R., & McCormick, D. (1994). A sociocultural perspective on language learning strategies: The role of mediation. The Modern Language Journal, 78(4), 453–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferman, I. (2004). The washback of an EFL national oral matriculation test to teaching and learning. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research contexts and methods. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Gosa, C. M. C. (2004). Investigating washback: A case study using student diaries. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Lancaster University.Google Scholar
  22. Green, A. (2007). IELTS washback in context: Preparation for academic writing in higher education (Studies in language testing, Vol. 25). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Guilloteaux, M. (2007). Motivating language learners. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Nottingham.Google Scholar
  24. Hamp-Lyons, L. (1998). Ethical test preparation practice: The case of TOEFL. TESOL Quarterly, 32, 329–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harmer, J. (2007). The practice of English language teaching. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd..Google Scholar
  26. Hughes, A. (1993). Backwash and TOEFL 2000. Unpublished manuscript. Reading: University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kanno, Y., & Norton, B. (2003). Imagined communities and educational possibilities: Introduction. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 2(4), 241–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Knapman, G. (2008). The TOEIC: Critical review. Fukuikogyodai Journal, 38, 85–94.Google Scholar
  29. Lantolf, J. P. (2000). Sociocultural theory and second language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Larsen-Freeman, D., & Cameron, L. (2008). Complex systems in applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Leonťev, A. N. (1978). Activity, consciousness, and personality. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hal.Google Scholar
  33. Li, X. (1990). How powerful can a language test be? The MET in China. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 11(5), 393–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McEwen, N. (1995). Educational accountability in Alberta. Canadian Journal of Education, 20, 27–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Messick, S. (1981). The controversy over coaching: Issues of effectiveness and equity. In B. F. Green (Ed.), New directions for testing and measurement: Issues in testing – coaching, disclosure, and ethnic bias (pp. 21–55). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  36. Miller, K. (2003). The pitfalls of implementing TOEIC preparation courses. Retrieved from
  37. Nall, T. (2004). TOEIC: A discussion and analysis. The ELT two cents cage. Retrieved from
  38. Nolen, S. B. (1996). Why study? How reasons for learning influence strategy selection. Educational Psychology Review, 8(4), 335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Norton, B. (2001b). Non-participation, imagined communities and the language classroom. In M. Breen (Ed.), Learner contributions to language learning: New directions in research (pp. 159–171). Essex: Pearson Education Ltd.Google Scholar
  40. Powers, D. E. (2010). Validity – What does it mean for the TOEIC tests? (ETS research report TC-10-01). Princeton: Educational Testing Service.Google Scholar
  41. Purpura, J. (1999). Learner strategy use and performance on language tests. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Robb, T. N., & Ercanbrack, J. (1999). The study of effect of direct test preparation on the TOEIC® scores of Japanese university students. TESL-EJ, Retrieved from
  43. Roberts, M. (2002). TOEFL preparation: What are our Korean students doing and why? The Korea TESOL Journal, 5(1), 81–106.Google Scholar
  44. Sewell, D. (2005). The TOEIC: Reliability and validity within the Korean context. Retrieved from
  45. Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational Researcher, 27, 4–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shepard, L. A. (1990). Inflated test score gains: Is the problem old norms or teaching the test. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 9, 15–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shih, C. M. (2007). A new washback model of students’ learning. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 64(1), 135–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Shohamy, E. (1993). The power of test: The impact of language testing on teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Foreign Language Center.Google Scholar
  49. Shohamy, E., Donitsa-Schmidt, S., & Ferman, I. (1996). Test impact revisited: Washback effect over time. Language Testing, 13, 298–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stoynoff, S. (2009). Recent developments in language assessment and the case of four large-scale tests of ESOL ability. Language Teaching, 42(01), 1.Google Scholar
  51. Tsagari, D. (2007). Review of washback in language testing: How has been done? What more needs doing? Unpublished manuscript, Lancaster University.Google Scholar
  52. Watanabe, Y. (2001). Does the university entrance examination motivate learners? A case study of learner interviews. InTrans-equator exchanges: A collection of academic papers in honour of Professor David Ingram (Vol. 100–110). Akita: Faculty of Education and Human Studies, Akita University.Google Scholar
  53. Watanabe, Y. (2004). Methodology in washback studies. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe, & A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research contexts and methods (pp. 19–36). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  54. Wertsch, J. V. (1985). Vygotsky and the social formation of mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Xie, Q. (2010). Test design and use, preparation, and performance: A structural equation modelling study of consequential validity. Thesis, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawn Karen Booth
    • 1
  1. 1.AucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations