English and Persian Undergraduate Students’ Perceptions of the Construct-(ir)Relevance of Language Proficiency in the Assessment of Literary Competence

Document Type: Research Paper


Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz


Of the many dilemmas facing the assessment of literary competence, one is the extent to which language should constitute part of the target construct intended to be measured. Some argue for the construct-irrelevance of language and hence recommend that it be eliminated or minimized in favor of an exclusive focus on literary competence. In practice, this does not seem to be the case, as language proficiency considerations seem to creep into assessment, clouding assessment outcomes. The current study sought to examine students' perceptions of the degree to which knowledge of language constitutes part of the construct of literary competence in two departments of English and Persian literature. To this end, a total of seventy students in two poetry courses, one in the English department and the other in the Persian, responded to a questionnaire designed to gauge their perceptions of the extent to which language competence constitutes a component of the literary competence. Data were analyzed through one sample and independent samples t-tests. It was found that language competence is somehow construct-irrelevant in testing literary competence. Interestingly, measurement-invariance was observed regarding Persian and EFL students’ stance on the construct-irrelevance of language in tests of literary achievement and competence.   


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