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Title: Investigating the washback effect of a high-stakes EFL exam in the Greek context : participants' perceptions, material design and classroom applications
Author: Tsagari, Konstantia
ISNI:       0000 0001 3536 8946
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2006
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The research project undertaken in the present thesis is an attempt to explore an important educational phenomenon in a context that places a great deal of value on exa.minations but where very little research has been undertaken by researchers so far either in the field of language teaching and testing or in general education. Therefore, a programme of research was undertaken aiming at examining the 'washback effect' (Alderson and Wall, 1993) of a high-stakes exam on the teaching and learning that takes place in intennediate level classes leading to that level. To this end, preliminary interviews with 15 native and non-native EFL teachers, actively involved in preparing students for the exam were conducted. These identified several areas where the influence of the exam was claimed to exist. The results led to a detailed analysis of textbook materials using a specially-designed instrument and showed that the exam did influence the textbooks teachers use but the nature of the influence varied across books and features. It seemed that factors beyond the exam, such as the authors' understanding of the underlying principles of the exam and their willingness and ability to operationalise the exam requirements through the materials seemed to be playing a greater role in detennining the influence of the exam rather than the exam itself. The next and final part of the study looked at the effects of the exam reported by students by means of student diaries. The analysis of this data showed that students' attitudes and feelings as well as their motivational orientations towards learning the language were affected by the exam. The diaries also threw light on the way lessons, based on exam-preparation textbooks, were structured. Overall, the results of the research project have shown not only the complexity of investigating washback as noted by previous studies but also how many other factors need to be taken into account when studying the washback effect of a highstakes exam to explain why washback from the exam took the form that it did. On the basis of the results, a deeper understanding of the mechanism of washback was gained that led to a ~ode1 of exam washback and to suggestions for teachers, teacher trainers, students, material and test developers as well as future researchers in the area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available