Assessing Pragmatics through MDCTs: A Case of Iranian EFL Learners

Document Type: Research Paper


1 University of Tehran

2 Khatam University


Testing pragmatic competence has always posed daunting challenges to researchers and practitioners. As a step to address the gap in pragmatic testing, this paper delineates the procedural stages of developing and validating a context-sensitive Multiple Choice Discourse Completion Test (MDCT). Following a unitary view of validity, tenable argument and empirical evidence was accumulated to support the construct validity of the test. While 136 advanced learners of English took the developed test, it exhibited reasonable internal consistency (α= .72). Furthermore, the results of correlational studies revealed acceptable association between the scores of this MDCT with both a written version of the same test and a previously validated test of pragmatics from the literature endorsing its concurrent validity. Also, the MDCT proved efficient in differentiating between native speakers and EFL learners as suggested by the results of an independent samples t-test. Finally, a pretest-posttest experimental study with 26 intermediate EFL learners was designed to check the sensitivity of the test towards developments in learners’ interlanguage after which a t-test analysis corroborated the construct validity of the test. This array of evidence denotes that the suggested MDCT can be reliably used in EFL contexts as a valid measure of pragmatic competence.