Research Topic

Remote Online Language Assessment: Eliciting Discourse from Children and Adults

About this Research Topic

Being able to collect valid data is crucial for empirical science disciplines such as linguistics, developmental psycholinguistics, clinical psycholinguistics and speech and hearing sciences. In recent years there has been an increasing use of digital devices for remote language assessments, such as online elicitation of language samples, apps for eliciting expressive and productive lexical abilities, and online questionnaires. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still affecting many lives globally, there have been numerous disruptions of face-to-face, in-person language assessments, leading many researchers to conduct their language assessments online.

Despite the necessity of remote language assessments and the convenience they may bring to both assessors and assessees, the potential merits, limits, and problems of remote testing have not yet been systematically explored and understood. This timely Research Topic seeks contributions that mobilize new evidence and/or insightful and nuanced discussions to address questions such as: Can we control online testing so that it is as good as face-to-face, in-person testing, and if so, how? Do we have evaluative evidence of such practices, and if so, how robust is the evidence? What adaptations and concerns can and cannot be accommodated at the present time? What opportunities are offered by recent technological advances? Are there certain conditions in which online testing works better or worse? Last but not least, how do differences between offline, in-person language assessments and online, remote assessments affect the results of testing?

The current topic has two main foci: the first deals with the assessment of conversational discourse in general and narrative discourse in particular, in both children and young adults. Communicative competence at the discourse level has been considered an essential and ecologically valid component in language assessments of children and adults, for three key reasons: 1) this competence is crucial for an individual’s everyday functioning and academic and social life, 2) it provides information about an individual’s socio-cognitive and linguistic abilities, and 3) it is a versatile test of language skills at the levels of content, form, use and their integration. The second focus is on comparing the results elicited via in-person assessments and remote, online assessments.

This Research Topic welcomes empirical articles discussing new evidence, perspective and opinion papers on issues at the conceptual-methodological interface, and methods articles presenting approaches that can offer opportunities for remote testing of developmental discourse supported by recent technological advances.

Potential themes may include, but are not limited to:

• Comparisons of remote versus in-person testing modes using a within-participants research design
• Learner variables such as age, gender, language status (monolingual, multilingual), and clinical status (typically-developing children and adults, children and adults with clinical conditions such as (developmental) language disorder, autism spectrum disorder) which may affect the efficacy of remote testing
• Linguistic variables such as the use of referential and relational devices and mental state language which may be subject to more variations when being assessed remotely
• New methods that offer opportunities for the remote testing of developmental and adult discourse, supported by recent technological advances
• Articles addressing the same research question within developmental narrative discourse but using different (i.e. either online or offline) research methods


Keywords: child and adult language, discourse, language assessment, narrative, online testing, remote testing


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Being able to collect valid data is crucial for empirical science disciplines such as linguistics, developmental psycholinguistics, clinical psycholinguistics and speech and hearing sciences. In recent years there has been an increasing use of digital devices for remote language assessments, such as online elicitation of language samples, apps for eliciting expressive and productive lexical abilities, and online questionnaires. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still affecting many lives globally, there have been numerous disruptions of face-to-face, in-person language assessments, leading many researchers to conduct their language assessments online.

Despite the necessity of remote language assessments and the convenience they may bring to both assessors and assessees, the potential merits, limits, and problems of remote testing have not yet been systematically explored and understood. This timely Research Topic seeks contributions that mobilize new evidence and/or insightful and nuanced discussions to address questions such as: Can we control online testing so that it is as good as face-to-face, in-person testing, and if so, how? Do we have evaluative evidence of such practices, and if so, how robust is the evidence? What adaptations and concerns can and cannot be accommodated at the present time? What opportunities are offered by recent technological advances? Are there certain conditions in which online testing works better or worse? Last but not least, how do differences between offline, in-person language assessments and online, remote assessments affect the results of testing?

The current topic has two main foci: the first deals with the assessment of conversational discourse in general and narrative discourse in particular, in both children and young adults. Communicative competence at the discourse level has been considered an essential and ecologically valid component in language assessments of children and adults, for three key reasons: 1) this competence is crucial for an individual’s everyday functioning and academic and social life, 2) it provides information about an individual’s socio-cognitive and linguistic abilities, and 3) it is a versatile test of language skills at the levels of content, form, use and their integration. The second focus is on comparing the results elicited via in-person assessments and remote, online assessments.

This Research Topic welcomes empirical articles discussing new evidence, perspective and opinion papers on issues at the conceptual-methodological interface, and methods articles presenting approaches that can offer opportunities for remote testing of developmental discourse supported by recent technological advances.

Potential themes may include, but are not limited to:

• Comparisons of remote versus in-person testing modes using a within-participants research design
• Learner variables such as age, gender, language status (monolingual, multilingual), and clinical status (typically-developing children and adults, children and adults with clinical conditions such as (developmental) language disorder, autism spectrum disorder) which may affect the efficacy of remote testing
• Linguistic variables such as the use of referential and relational devices and mental state language which may be subject to more variations when being assessed remotely
• New methods that offer opportunities for the remote testing of developmental and adult discourse, supported by recent technological advances
• Articles addressing the same research question within developmental narrative discourse but using different (i.e. either online or offline) research methods


Keywords: child and adult language, discourse, language assessment, narrative, online testing, remote testing


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
20 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
20 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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