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Cultivating EFL learners’ productive skills by employing dynamic and non-dynamic assessments: attitude in focus


In this study, the potential impacts of dynamic assessment (DA) and non-dynamic assessment (non-DA) on Ethiopian EFL students’ productive skills were investigated. Additionally, this study examined Ethiopian EFL students’ attitudes regarding using DA in their speaking and writing classes. Fifty-three Ethiopian intermediate EFL learners were selected using the convenience sampling method and separated into two groups in order to accomplish these goals. Next, both groups were pretested on two skills of writing and speaking. Then, one group received speaking and writing instruction utilizing DA, whereas the other group received instruction using non-DA. After 16 sessions of training, the groups received writing and speaking posttests, and the DA group also received an attitude questionnaire. The results indicated that there was a significant difference between the speaking and writing posttests of both groups in favor of the experimental group. In fact, the study’s findings revealed that the DA group outstripped the non-DA group on the speaking and writing posttests. The outcomes also indicated that the participants of the DA group held positive attitudes toward the AD. It was concluded that using the DA in EFL classes is an effective method for advancing EFL students’ English language acquisition. The implications of this research can persuade teachers to apply DA in their teaching process.


Assessment is a constant process that investigates how well learners are meeting the standards of a given educational program (Abdulaal et al., 2022). The process of assessment is essential to both learning and teaching. It is impossible to verify that the educational goals and objectives have been reached without doing some form of assessments. The outcomes of assessments can significantly affect how educators and educational planners judge the efficacy of present programs and their capacity to recognize successful strategies to promote the future course of action (Jafarigohar, 2017).

According to Lynch (2001), assessment is a collection of processes which contains testing and measurement but is not limited to them. After conducting tests or using other measuring techniques, it is the structured data we get that allows us to form conclusions about individuals. The focal objective of assessment is supporting the process of learning and teaching. As stated by Gipps (1994), assessment will transition from a psychometric model to a more comprehensive model of educational evaluation. Dynamic assessment (DA) proposes a fundamentally different way of conceptualizing assessment from how it has traditionally been understood by academics and teachers in the classrooms. A dialectically integrated activity known as DA consists of knowing students’ skills, teaching, helping in learners’ progress, and the pedagogical approach of evaluation (Poehner, 2008; Vadivel et al., 2019).

DA is defined as the relationship between assessors and students with the goal of estimating the extent to which pupils’ modifiability can be changed as well as the processes by which cognitive functioning and constructive modifications may be achieved and endured (Lumettu & Runtuwene, 2018). Ghonsooly and Hassanzadeh (2019) assert that in DA, the communications between the teacher and the students provide estimates about the expected course of the students’ future progress.

One type of alternative assessment called DA provides appropriate types of mediation while integrating assessment and teaching into a cooperative educational method (Cho et al., 2020; Ebadi & Rahimi, 2019). By explicitly assessing how well students respond to specific treatments, DA seeks to present a more comprehensive picture of learners’ cognitive structures in order to improve the diagnoses of pupils’ learning challenges and to identify their strong and weak points (Ahn & Lee, 2016; Wang & Chen, 2016). By revealing the specifics of learners’ capacities to create the intervention programs, DA is able to highlight learners’ accomplishments and elicit potential talents (Liu et al., 2021). For instance, Anton (2009) claims that DA enhances customized training and enables a fuller characterization of learners’ real and latent talents.

Making commendations in accordance with developmental capacity, which is absent in older non-DAs, is a big benefit of DA (Davin, 2011). In DA, the students are given mediated help and instruction on how to execute particular activities. Then, it is determined how much they can improve at doing similar activities (Kirschenbaum, 2008; Rezai et al., 2022). According to Lidz (2002), DA is a partnership between the assessors acting as interveners and students acting as active participants that aim to assess the student’s degree of modifiability and the process by which beneficial modifications in cognitive functioning may be created and sustained.

According to Ebadi and Saeedian (2015), one distinguishing feature of DA is the change in focus from a student’s distinct performance characteristics to his responsiveness to the mediations provided. The goal of DA is to support pupils’ improvement and their skill level based on the instructional courses. Consequently, it is improvement oriented or improvement related (Poehner, 2008). Based on Sternberg and Grigorenko (2002), if mediation is used in the process, irrespective of where it takes place, that decides if a strategy is static or dynamic rather than the instrument itself.

Using DA in language learning and teaching can be beneficial for developing EFL learners’ speaking ability as a type of productive skills. The majority of EFL students aim to speak English well; thus, it has always been of great interest to EFL students (Mohammadi & Enayati, 2018). Speaking is a useful ability that instructors work to develop in EFL students so they can create utterances when interacting with others. It is the deliberate use of language to convey meanings so that listeners may understand what speakers are saying (Kazemi & Tavassoli, 2020).

Speaking is also acknowledged as a participatory, social, and contextualized communication event. It can aid individuals in creating and maintaining social connections, communicating their emotions, and expressing their identities. According to Nunan (1991), success in acquiring a foreign or second language is determined by one’s capacity to carry on a conversation in the language at hand. For most individuals, mastering the skill of speaking is the most crucial component of doing so. One of the hardest skills for students to acquire is speaking since it requires them to be proficient in all of its elements in order to communicate properly and smoothly. It is important to master all five aspects of speaking: grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, understanding, and fluency (Fulcher & Davidson, 2006).

Writing ability is the other productive skill that is claimed to be impacted by DA. Writing abilities are a crucial component of communication because they allow individuals to convey their ideas, sentiments, and opinions in writing. Many scientists have shown interest in the idea of “writing.” According to Nunan (2003), writing is a physical as well as a cerebral activity. Writing is essentially the physical process of transferring ideas or words to a surface. Writing is the mental process of coming up with opinions, considering how to convey them, and arranging them into sentences and paragraphs that are understandable to readers.

Another definition of writing according to Harmer (2006) is “a process, or the steps a writer takes to create anything in its finished form.” The planning, drafting, editing, and creation of the final document are the four primary components of this procedure. In this vein, Richard and Schmidt’s (2002) argument that writing is seen as the end consequence of intricate planning, composing, evaluating, and rewriting procedures was endorsed. Recently, scholars have expanded their ideas on writing to include the social component. Writing skill is both a complicated social action and a cognitive activity. It is an illustration of the author’s communication abilities and domain knowledge. Writing is difficult to learn and improve, especially when learning to write in a second language like English (Shokrpour & Fallazadeh, 2007).

Writing is usually the last skill to be acquired as compared to the other three abilities of hearing, speaking, and reading throughout the development, acquisition, and growth of any language. However, writing is said to be the ability that beginners find the most challenging. Even while writing in their own language, learners frequently struggle. Those challenges feel considerably more significant when writing in English. Researchers who study foreign languages and linguists throughout the world have been debating this question extensively (Ngoc Anh, 2019).

The other significant variable in this study is attitude. Ellis (1994) says that having positive attitudes about a foreign and a second language can enhance learning and having negative attitudes can hamper it. Hence, pupils with positive attitudes become more successful in reaching their learning objectives, while students with negative attitudes view language learning as a difficult task. Doughty and Long (2003) held that the acquisition of the L2 relies on a modification of the attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge toward the people of the target language. A positive change in the attitudes of students toward the native speakers is crucial for the learning of target language. Students’ previous experiences as language learners can influence their attitudes. If they were successful, then they may be predisposed to success now. Failures then may imply that they expect failures now (Ahmed et al., 2015).

By considering the problems that students encounter in speaking and writing skills, the present investigation intended to employ DA and non-AD in EFL classes, hoping to help students solve some of their learning problems and consequently develop their writing and speaking skills. This study can be significant as it works on two main skills, i.e., speaking and writing that EFL learners have the most problems in mastering them. Also, this research is significant as it can be a motivating step for other researchers to examine the impacts of DA and other types of assessments on receptive skills.

Literature review

Theoretical background

Assessment has been described in a variety of ways in the literature. Linn and Miller (2005) described assessment as a systematic process for acquiring information concerning pupils’ progress towards the objectives of learning. They asserted that several techniques may be employed to evaluate the performance of the students, including “traditional paper and pencil evaluations, longer answers (essays), completion of real assignments, teachers’ observations, and students’ self-reports” (p. 75).

Similarly, Dhindsa et al. (2007) defined assessment as “a systematic process of data collection” regarding students’ progress and a critical component of learning and teaching (p. 1261). Teachers significantly influence how students view evaluation, which has an impact on how they learn (Watling & Ginsburg, 2019). Given that teaching includes interpersonal relationships, the methods in which instructors interact with and relate to their pupils may have a big influence on the kind of learning settings they create (Namaziandost et al., 2022; Ramani et al., 2018; Zare Toofan et al., 2019).

The development of DA as a type of assessment stems from Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (SCT) of 1978. It is founded on the integration of assessment and instruction via mediation and interaction (Poehner, 2008). Learners use language and create knowledge that intervenes their own surroundings and that of others via contact with the environment (Kozulin & Garb, 2002). However, DA considers the human and environment as one entity that cannot be comprehended separately and does not just concentrate on the quantity of environmental and individual improvements (Poehner & Lantolf, 2005).

Based on Vygotsky’s SCT, Kozulin and Garb (2002) suggested three aspects for DA: initiating interaction, establishing functions, and contrasting intervened and autonomous performance for achieving the desired instructional outcomes. Dynamic assessment is the “process-based method in which evaluation and learning are taken into account as intimately connected and not distinct,” according to Williams and Burden (1997) (p. 99). To help each student learn better, DA utilizes both quantitative and qualitative diagnostic data, with the help of MKOs who are more experienced (Baek & Kim, 2003). According to Baek and Kim (2003), DA employs various evaluation strategies that emphasize more on the learning processes and less on the final result. DA is thought of as process-focused, future-based, ZPD-oriented, and interactive training as opposed to conventional teaching approaches (Jiang et al., 2022; Poehner, 2008).

DA enhances the knowledge acquired about students’ comprehension and competence, which results in improved interpretation and application of marks or other evaluative judgements (Poehner, 2008). Additionally, DA is concerned with the growth of both teachers and students by offering information on students’ thoughts and skills, as well as the causes of their poor performance (Poehner, 2008). The primary characteristics of DA, according to Haywood and Lidz (2007), include interactions, direction, encouragement, and feedback, all of which promote deeper learning. Because of certain cognitive complexity, internal learner characteristics, external influences, and aspects of the educational environment, the usage of DA models in foreign or second language learning and instruction is obviously distinct from general education.

Therefore, it is not recommended to apply the previously established claims regarding the effectiveness of dynamic evaluation models for education straight to language instruction without first critically analyzing and scrutinizing them. ZPD, mediation, and scaffolding are the three main ideas that underpin DA in sociocultural theory. The ZPD, as described by Vygotsky (1978), is “the difference between the levels of prospective improvement as specified by problem-solving under adult direction or in partnership with more proficient peers and the level of real improvement levels as established via independent problem-solving” (p. 86). According to Vygotsky, there are three improvement zones: the first one includes knowledge that students have already acquired, the second zone includes knowledge that students can grasp with the help of MKOs, and the third zone includes knowledge that students do not yet know.

Vygotsky (1998) asserts that learning occurs when a pupil is in the proper zone of proximal improvement. It may be claimed that the zone of proximal development might be difficult to describe at times if we take a critical look at the literature that is now available on it, its conceptual actuality and character, and its mechanism of action in learning. Consequently, estimating the zone of proximal development’s size is more subjective than objective, casting doubt on the majority of past assertions regarding its applicability and effective function in advancing both general learning and language learning.

The term “scaffolding” describes the aid offered to students in carrying out a variety of activities that they are unable to complete on their own. This assistance is given until the students are able to carry out the activity on their own (Poehner & Lantolf, 2005). In order to support students until they are able to effectively complete the activities, scaffolding reduces the task complexity and improves attention to the work (Poehner & Infante, 2017). The assessor helps the student to resolve difficulties with the aim of the students’ instructional advancement, according to Poehner’s (2009) assertion that instruction and assessment are not separate but rather complexly intertwined.

Contrary to what has been suggested in studies on education and SLA, the concept of scaffolding is difficult to grasp and put into practice at the educational level, especially by inexperienced teachers and unmotivated students who are unfamiliar with the processes of scaffolding and how they should take advantage of the scaffolded assistance offered by their instructors. Mediation is a crucial idea in DA and SCT.

Three mediation requirements were identified by Aljaafreh and Lantolf (1994). First, it is important to gradually support kids, which means providing implicit assistance at first and subsequently explicit assistance as needed. Second, where implicit assistance was successful, explicit assistance should be provided. Last but not least, help should come in the form of dialogue that builds meanings through interaction between instructor and student.

Mediation can appear in a variety of ways during the discussion, such as clues, questions, recommendations, and explanations. The implementation of this three-step mediation process faces numerous difficulties, irregularities, and misconceptions on the part of both teachers and students, particularly when learning and teaching a second or foreign language, despite the numerous significant advantages mentioned for it by the proponents of the DA model (Lantolf & Poehner, 2004).

Empirical background

The usefulness of DA on learning English language has been the topic of several scientific investigations. In a research on the impacts of DA on enhancing the listening skills of L2 French learners at the university level, Ableeva (2008) described how participants improved their understanding with mediator assistance. This demonstrated that students’ capabilities were more advanced than would have been predicted in a situation without mediation.

In a research she did in 2009, Anton (2009) used DA with third-year university Spanish language majors. Learners participated in a mediated-based learning environment centered on the spoken and written components of the examination after passing a non-DA admission test that evaluated vocabulary, grammar, reading and listening comprehension, and speaking and writing skills. The dynamic speaking exam gave Antón a better idea of the learners’ real and emergent abilities based on their answers to mediation.

The application of DA in a mixed 4th- and 5th-grade Spanish classrooms was examined by Lantolf and Poehner in 2011. The classroom instructor in this study utilized standardized mediation cues to evaluate noun/adjective agreement in Spanish on the fly. They found success in developing the group’s ZPD by incorporating DA into day-to-day classes without altering educational goals or curricular aims and training within the learners’ ZPD to support the improvement of the Spanish grammar learning.

In their Shrestha and Coffin, 2012 study, examined the impacts of teacher mediation on the setting of academic writing enhancement for learners enrolled in open and remote learning for undergraduate business courses. The authors came to the conclusion that DA can assist in identifying and addressing the areas where learners most require supports. Although the investigation was restricted to a specific sociocultural environment in higher educational levels, the authors acknowledged that their findings could not be applied to other situations.

Hessamya and Ghaderib (2014) looked at the function of DA in EFL learners’ vocabulary acquisition. Fifty EFL students with intermediate skill levels were chosen as the study’s sample in order to meet this objective. Two groups were created for the participants. Following the pretest, mediation was given to one group acting as the EG. No mediation was provided to the other group, which served as a CG. The gained findings depicted considerable differences amongst the EG and CG performances. In other words, adding DA as an additional assessment method had a favorable impact on learners’ test scores as well as their vocabulary acquisition.

Wang (2015) investigated if DA can improve the combination of instruction and listening comprehension assessment while simultaneously improves students’ study in listening. The investigator intervened to mediate the tasks. Then, the partakers were exposed to the audio material again and inquired to retell. This procedure went on until the listeners got adequate comprehension of the audio material. The results showed that DA can offer a better understanding of the difficulty in listening to both the partakers and researcher. The findings indicated that the researcher’s mediation and intervention in partakers’ difficulties assisted to make the mediated learning experience for them.

The effects of DA on EFL learners’ acquisition of L2 grammar were examined by Kamali et al. (2018). Their study found that students who participated in DA mediations significantly outperformed those who participated in CG. They agreed that because they had received appropriate feedback during the DA mediation process, the students had internalized their L2 grammatical knowledge and received higher results. The research indicated the advantages of using DA in teaching grammar to L2 students.

Suherman (2020) attempted to investigate how DA affected the reading ability of EFL students. In this research, five tertiary-level EFL students from Indonesia participated. It looked at the degree to which DA mediation supports learning and tested if it improves students’ reading comprehension abilities. First, a reading pretest was used, second the mediation was applied, and third, a reading posttest was utilized to collect the needed data. Two key points emerged from the research. First, all five students showed overall improvement in the posttest results. The results of the statistical tools indicated that the reading comprehension of the students was significantly influenced by DA. Also, the results showed that mediation generated constructive benefits for students’ learning in diverse ways.

Moreover, Shobeiry (2021) inspected the effects of DA on enhancing reading comprehension and metacognitive awareness for reading strategies of Iranian IELTS students within the framework of Poehner (2009) who advocated the integration of assessment and instruction in promoting learners’ abilities. It was a pretest-treatment-posttest quasi-experimental design in which 71 men and women advanced EFL learners participated. The experimental group (n = 35) received DA interventions for the period of 10 weeks (40 h in total), and the control group (n = 36) went through regular teaching methods and static assessment. Two academic IELTS reading comprehension equivalent tests were employed as the pretest and posttest. Also, a metacognitive awareness for reading strategy questionnaire was administered twice (once at the outset and once at the end of the study). The results of an ANCOVA analysis showed that the experimental group outperformed the control group in reading comprehension development. Moreover, a statistically significant difference was found between the metacognitive awareness for reading strategies of the experimental group and that of the control group through the repeated measure AVONA test.

The impacts of incorporating DA into a speech recognition learning system to assist learners to develop their speaking abilities, cognitive load (CL), and language anxiety (LA) were investigated by Chen et al. in 2022. In this survey, a DA-based speech recognition (DA-SR) instructional system was prepared to make it easier for students to speak English. Furthermore, by presenting the DA-SR and the corrective feedback-oriented speech recognition (referred to as CF-SR) techniques for the EG and CGs, a quasi-experimental method was used to quantify the effect of the mentioned technique on participants’ speaking development. The results of the trial demonstrated that both the CF-SR group and the DA-SR group could efficiently raise the learners’ English-speaking LA and improve their English-speaking abilities. This research also shown that, in comparison with the CF-SR strategy, the DA-SR technique successfully reduced students’ worry about performing in English class and extraneous CL.

Recent research by Abdulaal et al. (2022) tried to compare the effects of DA and non-DA on the receptive skills of Ethiopian EFL students. To do so, 96 intermediate pupils from a high school took part in this investigation as a result. Next, the students were split into three similar groups: a CG and two EG2. Following the administration of a pretest, the CG got conventional training, while the EGs participated in group DA to learn listening and reading skills. A posttest was given after the intervention. One-way ANCOVA findings showed that DA significantly affected receptive skills of the EG students.

Having reviewed the related literature, it was found that many Ethiopian EFL learners have many problems with speaking English as a foreign language. They cannot speak English fluently with both accuracy and appropriacy. In addition, they have plentiful problems in writing skill. Though they have vocabulary knowledge, they are weak both in speaking and writing skills. Also, the literature indicates that DA is more effective than the non-DA for English language learning. Most related studies were conducted on a single skill; very few studies were done on the effectiveness of the mentioned assessments on two or three skills and sub-skills simultaneously. Therefore, the current research compared the effects of the DA and non-DA on boosting Ethiopian EFL learners’ writing and speaking skills. Besides, this investigation inspected the attitudes of EFL learners towards DA.

Based on the research objectives, the following questions were raised:

  • RQ1: To what extend does using DA generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ writing skill?

  • RQ2: To what extent does using non-DA generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ writing skill?

  • RQ3: To what extent does using DA generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ speaking skill?

  • RQ4: To what extent does using non-DA generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ speaking skill?

  • RQ5: Do Ethiopian EFL students have positive attitudes towards DA in learning speaking and writing skills?

Five null hypotheses were offered based on the research questions as follows:

  • HO1: Using DA does not generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ writing skill.

  • HO2: Using non-DA does not generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ writing skill.

  • HO3: Using DA does not generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ speaking skill.

  • HO4: Using non-DA does not generate constructive effects on Ethiopian EFL learners’ speaking skill.

  • HO5: Ethiopian EFL students do not have positive attitudes towards DA in learning speaking and writing skills.

Method of the research

Research design

In this research, a quasi-experimental design including pre-test-intervention-posttest with nonrandom accessibility sampling for selecting the respondents was exploited in this research. This study included two groups of control and experimental, and there were 27 learners in the CG and 26 learners in the EG. Dynamic and non-dynamic assessments were the independent variables, and writing and speaking skills and attitude were the dependent variables that were supposed to be affected by the independent variables.


Fifty-three intermediate EFL students were chosen among 93 individuals to participate in this study according to their scores on the Oxford Quick Placement Test (OQPT). The researchers could only choose 53 individuals from one language institution in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, because they did not have access to a broad population. The participants were selected by using the convenience sampling method. They were just males, ranging in age from 18 to 27. The target respondents were split into two groups at random—an experimental (n = 26) and a control (n = 27).


The OQPT was the first device used in this study to make the subjects homogenous. It helped to know the participants’ level (e.g., elementary, pre-intermediate, or intermediate) better. This exam was used to identify intermediate learners who were the study’s target participants. These learners had test scores that were between one standard deviation (SD) higher and under the mean.

In this study, the pretest and posttest were both two IELTS speaking exams. Students take part in an engaging debate that mimics real life as closely as possible throughout IELTS speaking assessments. Three sections of the test each lasted 11 to 14 min. In part 1, there are short answer questions about the participants’ families, work, and interests, which lasted less than 5 min. In the other section, the test takers were given a task card that asked them to speak on a certain subject and listed possible talking points. They get 1 min to prepare their speech before speaking for 1 to 2 min. An extended conversation with four to eight questions that lasted for about 5 min was in the third part. Four grading criteria such as pronunciation, coherence and fluency, grammatical accuracy and range, and lexical resources were used to assess students’ performance. Three English professors teaching at university confirmed the validity of the speaking pretest and posttest. Additionally, the reliability of pretest and posttest was 0.85 and 0.87, respectively, based on Cronbach’s alpha formula.

The other instrument utilized to collect data in order to response the question of the research was a writing pretest designed by the researcher according to the participants’ course book. It was comprised of two subjects, and the learners were asked to write about one of them haphazardly. The students were asked to write a 150-word composition on a topic in 30 min. The pretest was done in the class to get sure that the students themselves did it without surfing in the net and asking help from others. Then, the research gathered all compositions and graded them twice. The raters graded the compositions based on the students’ meaningful sentences, grammatical correctness, coherency, cohesion, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, indentation, and the length of each composition. The errors of each student were calculated and then scored. The pretest was validated by three English specialists, and inter-rater reliability was estimated to be (r = 0.83) using Pearson correlation formula.

The fifth tool in the current research was a writing posttest created by the researchers. The themes that were taught to both groups were included in the posttest. Similar to the pretest, the posttest included two themes that were randomly selected from those covered in their textbook, and the participants had to write on one of them in at least 150 words within the allotted 25 min. The learners’ writings were scored by two raters. The posttest was administered to students to measure how much their writing performance had developed after the instruction. It should be emphasized that two English experts confirmed the validity of the posttest, and Pearson correlation analysis was used to determine their inter-rater reliability (r = 0.85). Both writing pretest and posttest were validated by a group of knowledgeable English instructors.

To analyze writing skill, we used the metrics created by Wigglesworth and Storch (2009). While we added words per clause, Wigglesworth and Storch (2009) only utilized the ratio of clauses to T units and the percentage of dependent clauses of total clauses to determine complexity.

The other instrument of this study was a questionnaire designed by the researchers themselves to explore the DA group’s general attitudes towards using DA. There were 25 items in this questionnaire that asked about the participants’ thoughts regarding using DA. In the aforementioned questionnaire, a Likert scale was used to rank levels of agreement and disagreement from 1 to 5, with the options being strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and highly agree. The participants’ answers to each questionnaire item were given numerical numbers. As a result, if a student checked the box for strongly agreeing, he obtained a score of 5. A numerical value of 4 was assigned to agree, a code 3 to neutral, a number 2 to disagree, and a digit 1 to severely disagree. The reliability of this scale was measured using Cronbach’s alpha (r = 0.89). The mentioned questionnaire was a valid instrument since it was given to a panel of English teachers to check its items before administering it to the target participants.

Data collection procedure

The fifty-three participants were divided into two groups, namely DA group and non-DA group. Later, the groups took the pre-tests of speaking and writing skills. After that, the treatment was begun; in the non-DA group, speaking and writing were taught using non-DA method, and no mediation was used after the pretest by the researchers. In the DA group, dynamic approach was exploited in the class after speaking and writing pre-test. DA in this group encompassed mediations among the assessor and the examinee such as clarifications, suggestions, suggestions, prompts, and more significantly important questions by the examiner. In fact, the pre-test-mediation-post-test method or a sandwich model of DA was exploited in the research. In the first step, speaking and writing tests were given as the pre-test. In the second step, the mediation was supplied for the DA group. Then, 35 min of class time was allotted to the discussions and mediations of the findings of their exams. This procedure continued in 16 sessions; each lasted 60 min. Finally, the posttests of writing and speaking were given to the groups, and an attitude questionnaire was distributed among DA group. It should be noted that the Hughes’s (2003) speaking checklist was employed to help the raters score the participants’ speaking skill.

Data analyses procedure

The acquired data were examined applying SPSS software, version 26. First, the Kolmogorov-Smirnov (K-S) test was employed to evaluate the quality of the normality of the data distribution. Next, the descriptive statistics were provided and presented. Then, inferential statistics including paired sample t-tests and independent sample t-tests were used to assess the effects of the instruction on the students’ speaking and writing abilities. Fourthly, a one sample t-test was used to carefully analyze the questionnaire’s findings.

Results and discussion

The needed data were collected, and then, the researchers analyzed them to get the findings. The K-S test outcomes showed that the data’s distribution was normal since all Sig. values were above 0.05. Consequently, parametric statistics such as independent samples and paired samples t-tests were utilized to conduct an exact analysis on the data.

Table 1 displays the descriptive data for the two groups. The mean score for the non-DA group is 12.96, whereas the mean score for the DA group is 13.23. This indicates that at the start of the treatment, the speaking abilities of the two groups were comparable.

Table 1 Descriptive statistics (speaking pretest of both groups)

An independent samples t-test was performed on Table 2 to display the speaking pretest differences between the two groups. The findings demonstrate that the Sig. value (0.84) exceeds 0.05, and as a result, the differences amongst the groups are not meaningful. They actually did the same on the pretest (Table 3).

Table 2 Inferential statistics (speaking pretest of both groups)
Table 3 Descriptive statistics (speaking posttest of both groups)

Based on the descriptive data in the aforementioned table, the non-DA group’s mean score on the speaking posttest was 13.62, while the DA group’s mean score was 16.65. On the speaking posttests, the DA group ostensibly outstripped the non-DA group. The table that follows provides evidence supporting our claim.

According to Table 4, the difference between the DA and non-DA groups is statistically remarkable at (p 0.05). In actuality, in the speaking posttest, the DA group outdid the non-DA group. As the Sig. value (.00) is less than .05, there exists a significant difference between the performances of both groups on the speaking posttests in favor of the EG or DA group.

Table 4 Inferential statistics (speaking posttest of both groups)

A paired samples t-test is run in Table 5 for comparing the pre- and post-test results for each group. There is a difference between the performances of non-DA group before and after the treatment because Sig. (0.1) is lower than 0.05; equally, the differences between the pretest and posttest for DA are remarkable because the Sig. value (.00) is smaller than 0.05.

Table 5 Paired samples test (speaking pre- and posttests of each group)

The non-DA group’s mean score is 13.37, while the DA group’s mean score is 13.58, as shown in Table 6. It appears that both groups conducted similarly well on the writing pre-test. An independent samples t-test was run in the following table to see whether there was a meaningful difference between the writing posttests of the two groups.

Table 6 Descriptive statistics (writing pretest of both groups)

According to Table 7, the Sig. value is 0.87, which is larger than 0.05, indicating that there were no differences amongst the two groups’ writing pre-test scores. They actually carried out the identical performances prior to the treatment.

Table 7 Inferential statistics (writing pretest of both groups)

The descriptive data for both groups on the writing posttest are shown in Table 8. Non-DA and DA groups’ means are 14.62 and 17.42, respectively. On the writing posttest, it appeared that the DA group fared better than the non-DA group. An independent samples t-test may be used in the next table to determine if this assertion is true or false.

Table 8 Descriptive statistics (writing posttest of both groups)

Based on Table 9, the Sig. value is .00 that is smaller than the .05; therefore, the differences between the DA and non-DA groups are statistically meaningful. In actuality, in the writing posttest, the DA group outstripped the non-DA group. This betterment can be ascribed to the advantages of DA (Table 10).

Table 9 Inferential statistics (writing posttest of both groups)
Table 10 Paired samples test (writing pre- and posttests of each group)

A paired samples t-test is employed in the table above to compare each group’s pre- and post-test results. The differences between the non-DA group’s pretest and posttest are substantial because Sig. (0.4) is smaller than 0.05; likewise, the differences amongst the pretest and posttest for the DA group are meaningful because Sig. (.00) is lower than 0.05.

Both groups developed on their speaking and writing posttests, it can be said; however, the DA group outstripped the non-DA group on both posttests. Here, it is implied that the DA is superior to non-DA for EFL students’ learning English.

As shown in Table 11, the amount of Sig. value is smaller than 0.05. It can be deduced that Ethiopian EFL learners held favorable attitudes toward the efficiency of the DA on their language learning enhancement.

Table 11 Results of the attitudinal questionnaire

Several paired samples and independent samples t-tests were employed to arrive at the answers to the research questions, and their ultimate outcomes showed that the difference between the groups’ productive posttests was statistically meaningful. The results from the previous section show that the DA group conducted better on the speaking and writing posttests. The findings also indicated that Ethiopian EFL students’ attitudes regarding DA in English speaking and writing classrooms were favorable.

Previous researchers who identified the benefits of DA on learning a second or foreign language, like Sadeghi and Khanahmadi (2011), Pishgahadam et al. (2011), and Ableeva (2008), support the findings. In addition, Ghonsooly and Hassanzadeh (2019), who discovered the beneficial influence of DA on EFL students’ vocabulary development, confirm our findings. Additionally, Kamali et al. (2018) discovered that DA had beneficial influences on EFL students’ acquisition of grammar. Moreover, the results are consistent with Tavassoli and Nikmard’s (2019) identification of DA as an influential approach that greatly enhanced the performance of EFL students on several reading tasks.

Furthermore, the results support Mazloomi and Khabiri’s (2016) discovery that DA significantly influences EFL learners’ writing abilities. Lantolf and Poehner (2011), who confirmed the effects of DA on language learning, provide additional support for the present research results. Our results are also endorsed by Suherman (2020), who looked at the effects of DA on EFL pupils’ reading skill and found that employing DA could aid pupils in improving their reading ability. Our results also offer credence to Chen et al. (2022) findings, which verified the advantages of using DA in supporting CL and LA of EFL students. Additionally, the outcomes are consistent with Abdulaal et al. (2022), who discovered that DA was superior to non-DA for enhancing receptive skills in intermediate EFL learners.

The results of our research are in line with Ebadi and Rahimi (2019) who examined the effects of DA on the writing proficiency development of academic IELTS students. Their results indicated a significant development in the writing proficiency of the participants. In addition, our study is supported by Sharafi and Abbasnasab Sardareh (2016) who inspected the effects of DA on elementary EFL students’ grammar learning and showed that DA had significant effects on elementary EFL learners’ learning of prepositions of time and place. Furthermore, the findings gained in this study are compatible with Fekri Pilehroud et al. (2018), who examined the effects of online DA on reading and listening comprehension ability in TOEFL. Their results confirmed that online DA had a remarkable and positive impact on the enhancement of EFL learners’ performances in the listening and reading comprehension.

Besides, our results are endorsed by Shobeiry (2021) who confirmed the positive effects of DA on promoting Iranian IELTS students’ reading comprehension and their metacognitive awareness. Also, the gained results are in line with Rezaee et al. (2019) who verified the effectiveness using DA on developing grammar learning among Iranian intermediate EFL learners. Moreover, the results of Ajideh and Nourdad (2012) confirmed our results as they discovered that using DA developed EFL reading comprehension in different proficiency levels.

Gained outcomes can be linked to DA’s benefits, which include helping to guide personalized learning, develop successful teaching practices, optimize potential, better understand needs, and create a profile of strengths and challenges. In addition, the obtained results can be ascribed to fact that integration of DA techniques in EFL classes involves students in the learning process as they have access to planned meditation strategies for handling their learning more effectively. One more feasible justification for our outcomes might be that when the students were exposed to DA, they got certain about the instructor’s attention to their performance, and it could lessen their levels of learning anxiety.

The results of this investigation about the effectiveness of DA can be ascribed to the intervention that was employed in the form of test-mediation-retest. The regular use of DA in the classroom may have contributed to the participants’ success. The standard of mediation in DA is crucial because different types of mediations might be useful for different learners. Overall, learners can use DAs to evaluate and manage their own language learning by obtaining systematic and helpful information. The study’s findings, to put it succinctly, show that a DA method can successfully raise the productive abilities of EFL students. The results imply that EFL students have favorable opinions of learning using the DA approach. All pupils benefited from the mediation services provided within the DA program.

The other probable reason why the students in the EG outstripped the CG on their posttests may be ascribed to the constructive advantages of DA such as follows: there is much emphasis on the interpersonal interactions. DA is more naturalistic. DA can lessen the test anxiety of the students. Contrary to the non-DA, DA can give the inspectors a very vital role since not only they have a neutral role but also they have to make positive links with the students (Derakhshan & Kordjazi, 2015).

As the mediated learning experience can provide students with so many benefits for better and easier learning, the participants’ progress was anticipated. Mediated learning experience (MLE) is a type of interaction between the learners and the situation by the assistance of teachers or mediators who help to the language learning development of the learners. When there is no mediation, the opportunity of the students for benefiting from the learning is restricted, and as Feuerstein and Feuerstein (1991) put it, the lack of MLE is the main reason of the students’ deficiencies in positive disposition, learning instruments, and the propensity to learn. Furthermore, in this regard, rewriting and respeaking practices after the mediation were also applied either independently or with the guidance of the teacher in order to assist the students practice the corrections and use the feedbacks.

The experiment of students significantly improved between the pretest and posttest. Though DA can be incorporated into the educational process as a component of classroom instruction, it can also supply crucial details about specific learners. We can draw the conclusion that including DA in EFL classes can help EFL students learn English more effectively. Particularly, it can be concluded that using DA in EFL classes can assist Ethiopian EFL learners develop their speaking and writing skills. As DA was more useful than non-DA, it can be decided that DA is a better alternative for effective language evaluation than the non-DA as it provides an abundance of information and tells us so much more about the students’ current weak and strong points.

According to the study’s findings, the researchers think that implementing DA in EFL lessons encourages students to participate more actively in the learning process. It can boost students’ motivation and lessen test-taking anxiety. However, educators can use DA to assess students’ comprehension and awareness as well as identify any areas where they require additional support. Instructors may be capable to challenge students to develop to higher levels of functioning via involving in DA.

According to Sternberg and Grigorenko (2002), DA must be utilized to recommend learning strategies rather than just summarizing a learner’s performance. Teachers can use DA as a potent tool to assist them decides how to differentiate their instruction for various learners. According to Kinginger (2002), DA gives us a blueprint for how formative evaluation might be included into the learning process and blended with the objectives of summative evaluation.


This study aimed to check the impacts of DA and non-DA on Ethiopian EFL students’ speaking and writings skills. It was revealed the DA had significant effect on both productive skills, and students had positive effects toward using DA. The outcomes of this investigation may be extremely advantageous to EFL students, teachers, material makers, and testers. If pupils are careful enough, they can acquire these tactics and utilize them to aid their own advancement, just as in DA, when helpful strategies were employed to improve the participants’ speech and writing abilities. In addition, using DA can make students more autonomous and independent. DA also encourages cooperative learning in which both students and teachers work together to tackle the learning difficulties. DA can inform teachers of the practical techniques students need to become independent so they can take those into consideration when presenting material to the class. By using DA, teachers can identify where students have a specific difficulty, and consequently, they can provide a solution for it. Also, DA can help teachers diagnose the current level of the students, and based on this diagnosis, teachers can decide which skills or sub-skills need to be worked on and practiced more.

Language instructors can benefit from the outcomes of this research. It assists the teachers to integrate DA activities into their classes, recognize the weak points of their pupils, and supply mediations when and where necessary. The results of this research can motivate instructors to employ interactive tasks which lead to a better comprehending of L2 language learning for EFL learners. Therefore, incorporating more ZPD-oriented practices into the EFL contexts can raise students’ specific chance of meaningful interactions. Regarding the writing skill, Isavi (2012) discovered that DA has vital implications for instructors concerning what they can do to assist students in their learning by setting tasks which are at a level just beyond that of learners’ current level of functioning and teaching them how to take further steps up to the coming unassisted levels.

Additionally, if the creators of the materials are aware of how DA affects students’ progress, they may incorporate this assessment into their course books, which will be very helpful to both teachers and students. In other words, they can base the design of activities on the results of this form of assessment. Knowing the extent to which DA contributes to students’ enhancement, testers can apply this assessment type in a way that is pertinent to learners’ needs and academic levels, enabling teachers to use it to help students in making greater progress. The findings of this investigation may provide informative recommendations to people in charge of educational administrations and EFL test makers. The study can be used by EFL teachers, curriculum planners, syllabus designers, materials creators, and students who are interested in learning the language.

The results of this study are tangible, and there are practical implications for material developers and syllabus designers. There are few language materials (if any) which are designed based on the notion of DA and continuous assessment. In designing a dynamic syllabus or material, all these notions should be considered to produce materials that conduct their evaluation process dynamically, provide the learners with suitable and leveled feedback in the process of evaluation, and interactively engage the learners and instructor in the process of learning and evaluation.

This study may be helpful to syllabus designers who need to emphasize more flexibility. In DA, learners are the most important side of the educational program. If the syllabus is not in line with the needs of learners, teachers may take the syllabus designer’s role. Therefore, there should be enough flexibility in the syllabi to satisfy the needs of the students. This study may inspire the material developers to develop materials for English courses or workshops focusing on learners’ needs, give the possibility of diagnosing the problematic areas to the teachers, and make language courses more relevant to students’ needs (Birjandi et al., 2013).

The same as all research, the current research is not without drawbacks or limitations. Only 53 students were included in this study that is relatively small sample for an empirical study. We could conduct the treatment during 16 sessions that are not sufficient time for doing a rigorous study. One of this study’s main shortcomings may be its focus on male students. In addition, we were limited to gathering solely quantitative information to address the study’s given questions.

A few suggestions for further investigation are made. In the upcoming investigations, it is advised that the procedure used in the current study be repeated over an extended period of time. Similar research can be carried out on a larger sample of EFL learners to provide the researcher(s) with more accurate and broadly applicable results. Interviews and classroom observation can also be used to gather qualitative data on the use of different assessment styles and their impacts on learners and instructors. This study can be replicated by other researchers in different settings with different subjects. Additionally, the function of DA in the acquisition of linguistic competence or other language-related skills can be studied independently.

Availability of data and materials

The authors state that all the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article.



Dynamic assessment


Non-dynamic assessment


English as a foreign language


Sociocultural theory


Zone of proximal development


More knowledgeable others


Control group


Experimental group


Cognitive load


Language anxiety


DA-based speech recognition


Oxford Quick Placement Test


Standard deviation


International English Language Testing System


Statistical Package for the Social Sciences


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This study is supported via funding from Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University project number (PSAU 2023 /R/1444).

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All authors had equal substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, and writing the manuscript. The authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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  1. 1)

    Riswanto was born on April 10, 1972, at a small cold town named Curup in Bengkulu province. He is a senior English lecturer at Universitas Islam Negeri Fatmawati Sukarno Bengkulu. He has been teaching at this university since 1999. He finished his Sarjana degree at Bengkulu University 1997 on English education majoring. He completed his master’s degree from State University of Padang 2007 and in 2014. He was awarded Ph.D. degree from University of Science Malaysia on TESOL Methodology Department. The writer is very active in academic activities such as seminars, conferences, and workshops both in Indonesia and overseas programs. Besides, the writer is also active in writing scientific papers and references book, book chapters, and proceedings as well as journal articles both national and international journals.

  2. 2)

    Habesha Teferi is an independent researcher who got her MA from Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia

  3. 3)

    Khaled Ahmed Abdel-Al Ibrahim is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at College of Education, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, and Sohag University, Egypt.

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Riswanto, Teferi, H. & Ahmed Abdel-Al Ibrahim, K. Cultivating EFL learners’ productive skills by employing dynamic and non-dynamic assessments: attitude in focus. Lang Test Asia 13, 18 (2023).

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