Investigating cognitive processes in different item formats in reading tests through eye-tracking and verbal protocols

Hatice Akgün, Aylin Ünaldı

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study has investigated the differences in cognitive processes that test-takers undergo while answering reading comprehension questions in multiple-choice and open-ended short answer formats. For this purpose, data were collected from a group of undergraduate students in an English medium university through eye-tracking technology, immediate retrospective verbal protocols, and short semi-structured interviews. The results showed that the participants used careful reading skills more and comprehended the text more thoroughly in the open-ended format. However, in the MC format, they read less carefully and used more test-taking strategies. These findings contribute to the ongoing discussion on how item format can alter the cognitive processes in a reading comprehension test and confirm the effectiveness of eye-tracking in unveiling cognitive processes in combination with qualitative methods. This study has implications for reading test development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-129
Number of pages32
JournalStudies in Language Assessment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

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