Group vs. individual: How administration procedure can affect vocabulary test scores


Averil Coxhead(1), I.S.P. Nation(2), Lisa Woods(3) & Dalice Sim (4)

Publication Date:

18 December 2018

The primary aim of this study was to investigate two ways of administering a
vocabulary size test (individual versus group administration) in New Zealand
secondary schools. Two equivalent forms of the 20,000 version of the Vocabulary
Size Test were used in this study. One hundred and eleven 13 to 17 year old native
speakers of English at secondary school took one form of the test under group testing
conditions. That is, each student took a form of the test whilst sitting in a room with
other students who were also taking a form of the test. Each student also took an
individually-administered form of the test. For a majority of the test-takers, scores on
the individually-administered test were higher; in almost one-third of the cases
substantially so. Factors affecting the test results were investigated, including the
order of test administration, age, school year, and gender. The effort that a learner
puts into taking a test can have a major effect on test scores and teachers need to
take account of this when administering tests and interpreting test scores.
Implications for pedagogy and options for further research based on this exploratory
research are discussed.