The researchers of the DigiTala-project studied how the elementary level students had experienced the computer-based speech test. The participants consisted of academic Finnish learners at the elementary level (A1-A2). The students were particularly satisfied with the opportunity to do oral assignments as well as with the feedback they received about their language skills.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tasks were carried out remotely, resulting in recordings unaffected by external background noises. Consequently, the overall conditions were notably more tranquil compared to a typical classroom setting.
The participants were not used to doing speaking tasks remotely at their own pace, and many were shy of talking to a computer. While speaking tests conducted in a language studio have been a longstanding practice, computer-assisted speaking tests are not yet widespread.
The participants particularly appreciated the chance to listen and improve their own performance prior to submitting the assignments. However, the absence of natural interaction and the lack of a human contact were perceived as unfamiliar aspects. According to the students, the assignments closely resembled real-life situations and provided them with valuable speaking practice that had been lacking.
The integrating tasks, in particular, were found difficult. However, the overall length of the test was deemed appropriate, and the tasks generally aligned with the content covered in language lessons.
Some assignments were considered less meaningful by the students. The perceived meaningfulness of the task depended on the familiarity of the topic and the students' vocabulary proficiency in responding to it. However, based on the students' feedback, the assignments of the test were largely successful.
You can read the article in the publication of the Finnish Association for Subject Didactic Research (in Finnish).