Using eye-tracking technology and a while-listening performance (WLP) test, this study firstly examined the differences in measured listening performances and gaze behaviours on the test items (across the various stages of the test) between native English-speaking (E-L1) and non-native English-speaking (E-L2) candidates. Additionally, this study also determined the effects of the candidates’ gaze behaviours on their respective measured listening performances. One hundred students from a major global university participated in the study. The result from the Mann-Whitney U test indicated that E-L1 candidates outperformed E-L2 candidates in the test with higher test scores. Using stringent data processing cut-offs (presence of ≥80% gaze data) and a series of non-parametric multivariate analyses, the study found distinctive differences in gaze behaviours on the test items between E-L1 and E-L2 candidates. However, the overall dynamicity of gaze behaviours across various stages of the test was similar between the two groups. For E-L1 candidates, the regression analysis indicated that none of the gaze behaviours on the test items across the different stages of the test predicted their overall listening test scores. In contrast, the overall listening test scores for E-L2 candidates was predicted by the average proportion of time that they had dwelled on the test items while simultaneously answering them and listening to the auditory text. Importantly, this finding is indicative that lexical search or keyword matching on test items during the while-listening stage significantly contributes towards E-L2 candidates’ performances in the WLP test. Furthermore, these results also suggest that the focal construct of the WLP test is confounded by group-specific reading behaviours on the test items. In line with previous research, we do not recommend the use of the WLP test format for assessing second language listening comprehension.

Stacy Foo, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University

Vahid Aryadoust, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University

See also