The effects of language proficiency and awareness of time limit in animated vs. text-based situational judgment tests


BACKGROUND: Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs) are commonly used in medical school admissions. However, it has been consistently found that native speakers tend to score higher on SJTs than non-native speakers, which can be particularly problematic in the admission context due to the potential risk of limited fairness. Besides type of SJT, awareness of time limit may play a role in subgroup differences in the context of cognitive load theory. This study examined the influence of SJT type and awareness of time limit against the background of language proficiency in a quasi high-stakes setting.

METHODS: Participants (N = 875), applicants and students in healthcare-related study programs, completed an online study that involved two SJTs: one with a text-based stimulus and response format (HAM-SJT) and another with a video-animated stimulus and media-supported response format (Social Shapes Test, SST). They were randomly assigned to a test condition in which they were either informed about a time limit or not. In a multilevel model analysis, we examined the main effects and interactions of the predictors (test type, language proficiency and awareness of time limit) on test performance (overall, response percentage).

RESULTS: There were significant main effects on overall test performance for language proficiency in favor of native speakers and for awareness of time limit in favor of being aware of the time limit. Furthermore, an interaction between language proficiency and test type was found, indicating that subgroup differences are smaller for the animated SJT than for the text-based SJT. No interaction effects on overall test performance were found that included awareness of time limit.

CONCLUSION: A SJT with video-animated stimuli and a media-supported response format can reduce subgroup differences in overall test performance between native and non-native speakers in a quasi high-stakes setting. Awareness of time limit is equally important for high and low performance, regardless of language proficiency or test type.

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StatusVeröffentlicht - 15.05.2024