Ord på prov: En studie av ordförståelse i högskoleprovet

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

During the 1970s, vocabulary knowledge was a central topic within the field of Swedish sociolinguistics, often discussed from a democratic point of view focusing on inclusion and accessibility in the society. This study links up to this tradition by reporting a survey of how the vocabulary knowledge has changed over time in Sweden, building on data from theSwedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT). Ever since 1977, SweSAT has functioned as an instrument of selection to higher education. SweSAT consists of different quantitative and verbal subtests, and one of these subtest, the vocabulary test, is intended to assess understanding of words and concepts. The SweSAT vocabulary test is a multiple-choice test where no context is given. The study has been limited to comprise the period from the spring 2000 to the spring 2011. During this period, the vocabulary test consisted of 40 tasks at each occasion and was carried out by about40.000 participants each time. Based on data from the SweSAT vocabulary test, two substudies have been carried out. The first of these substudies focuses on differences in average test results over time. Since SweSAT is designed to rank the test takers as fairly as possible with regard to their expected study success,different tests are however not directly comparable. One solution to this problem is to restrict the comparison over time to different groups (i.e.based on age, educational background, and gender) in order to establish how the vocabulary knowledge has changed over time. The first substudy reports such an investigation of comparisons between groups, building on answers from 915, 491 participants. Over time, the average test score at the vocabulary test has decreased with about 2 points. During the same period we see a widening gap between different age groups. This widening gap can also be noticed when comparing test takers with or without university education. Other variables are of limited importance to explain the variation in test scores. A comparison of the average test score over time can, of course, not give any information of how the understanding of individual words has changed over time. However, every word that is given in a regular vocabulary test has previously been tried out on a smaller group of participants in connection with a regular SweSAT test (the test takers learn afterwards which part of the test that consisted of pretest tasks and which parts belonged to the regular test). By comparing the results for individual words from the pretests with the corresponding result from the regular test, changes in the understanding of individual words can however be tracked. The second substudy reports such an investigation of comparisons between pretests and regular vocabulary tests, building on results for a selection of151 words. When comparing the results from the pretests with the regular vocabulary tests, 110 of the 151 words included have changed significantly over time. For 75 of the words included (49%), the results have decreased between the pretests and the regular tests, whereas 36 (24%) of the words display a significant increase. As was the case in the first substudy, there are clear differences between age-groups, whereas the difference between females and males is almost non-existent. When looking for possible explanations of the results demonstrated, some tendencies to a connection between the improvement and frequency have been found, whereas no such relationship could be supported for the words that show a decreased result over time. However, there is a clear connection between vocabulary knowledge and word origin in the sense that words used also in English shows a better result than domestic words.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Uppsala University
  • Institutionen för nordiska språk, Uppsala
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature
  • Educational Sciences

Keywords

  • word knowledge, Swedish SAT, sociolinguistics, education
Translated title of the contributionWords on test : A study of word knowledge in the Swedish SAT
Original languageSwedish
Place of PublicationLund
PublisherSpråk- och litteraturcentrum, Lunds universitet
Number of pages144
VolumeA75
ISBN (Electronic)978-91-88473-43-1
ISBN (Print)978-91-88473-41-7
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2017 Aug 23
Peer-reviewedYes

Publication series

NameLundastudier i nordisk språkvetenskap
PublisherSpråk- och litteraturcentrum, Lunds universitet
No.A75
ISSN (Print)0347-8971