1Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran
2Allameh Tabataba’i University
Alternative assessment approaches received considerable attention soon after a discontent with traditional, one-shot testing. These approaches, however, have been used only to improve learners’ linguistic ability despite communicative models of language which pointed that knowledge of language also involves pragmatic ability (Bachman, 1990; Bachman & Palmer, 1996). The present study tries to explore the effect of two alternative assessment approaches (self-assessment and conference) on students’ production of four speech acts (apology, complaint, request, and refusal) plus politeness markers. A sample of 64 EFL students participated in this study. Metapragmatic explanations were given to three groups of university students studying English as a foreign language. The two treatment groups received instruction through self-assessment and conference and a comparison group was exposed to the conventional one-shot testing. The results of the One-Way ANOVA conducted after the treatment revealed an outperformance of alternative assessment approaches to the conventional one in the production of the four speech acts and politeness markers in WDCTs. A qualitative analysis of students’ self-ratings in the self-assessment group revealed that they focused more on linguistic criteria during the initial sessions and on pragmatic ones by the end of the treatment. It can be concluded that alternative assessment approaches are beneficial to students’ production of speech acts and politeness markers. In the end, the applicability and the positive effect of alternative approaches in pragmatic assessment are emphasized.