Chapter 1 Introduction
Instruction and assessment are traditionally viewed as two mutually independentactivities. However, with the emergence of dynamic assessment (DA), the landscape isrevolutionarily changed. DA is an umbrella term for a variety of approaches which unifyinstruction and assessment as “a development-oriented activity，，(Poehner, 2008，p. 1). Itstheoretical foundation mainly originated from sociocultural theory of mind (SCT) whichwas developed by the Russian psychologist Lev Semenovich Vygotsky and his colleagues.According to Vygotsky, traditional assessment does not offer a full picture of one'scognitive functions, or rather it only assesses the already developed or mature cognitivefunctions. To get the full picture, one has to take the developing or maturing cognitivefunctions into consideration. According to Vygotsky (1978)，any human cognitivefunctions appear twice during the process of development, first on the interpsychologicalplane, that is, during social interactions, and second on the intrapsychological plane(Vygotsky, 1978). Traditonal assessment only accounts for cognitive functions on theintrapsychological plane, leaving aside what is happening on the interpsychological plane.To account for cognitive development on the interpsychological plane, there should bemediation, or rather assistance during assessment. Besides，such assistance should not becasual but be sensitive to the learner's Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which is thedistance between what one can do independently and what one can do with the assistanceof an expert or a more capable peer. Therefore, the traditional examiner-examineerelationship should be converted into a mediator-leamer relationship. DA is suchassessment that advocates the fusion of instruction and assessment into a monistic activityduring which the mediator provides leamer-ZPD-sensitive mediation to understand the fullscope of the learner's cognitive development and promote the maturing cognitive functionsto transform from the interpsychological plane to the intrapsychological plane.
As will be shown in chapter 2，several researchers abroad have applied DA indifferent second language acquisition (SLA) contexts. However, there are rather few suchapplications in China. The present thesis intends to fill this research gap by applying DA toChinese non-English major EFL freshmen to find out whether DA can both diagnose moreaccurately their proficiency levels concerning target grammatical structures and further promote their development.The thesis consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 serves as a general introduction to DA,the significance of the study and its organization. Chapter 2 reviews the theoreticalframework and relevant literature. Chapter 3 describes the research methodology of thestudy. Chapter 4 presents data analysis of the pilot study and coding of the mediationstrategies employed in the main study. Chapter 5 discusses the two research questions withreference to the data collected. Chapter 6 concludes the thesis with a summary of thefindings and contribution of the present study, its limitations, pedagogical implications andsuggestions for future research.
Chapter 2 Literature Review
Mediation is the central concept in Sociocultural Theory (SCT) and is highlyimportant for DA. Poehner (2008，p. 26) states that the basic tenet of SCT is that “humancognition is mediated socially through interaction with others and culturally through theuse of cultural objects".Before Vygotsky，when dealing with the relationship between humans and the world,psychologists usually took a dualistic approach. Some hold that all human mentalprocesses are derived from the environment while others regard them as determined by thegenes (Valsiner & Van der Veer，2000). However，Vygotsky adopts a dialectic approach,according to which humans and the world are mutually constitutive. Actually, this insightowes a lot to Marx who believes that human beings shape and at the same time are beingshaped by the environment through mediated activity. Vygotsky and his colleagues extendMarxist view of mediation to human cognitive functions. According to Vygotsky, humanbeings do not act on the world directly but through mediated activities, central to which aremeditational tools, including physical and symbolic tools. Physical tools are directedoutwardly at the world，such as spades, stools，computers, etc. Symbolic tools, namely,cultural artifacts，such as graphs, charts, numbers and especially language, are on the onehand employed outwardly to mediate humans' relationship with the world and moreimportantly are used inwardly to mediate humans' relationship with themselves (Vygotsky,1994). As is stated by Poehner (2008, p. 27)，“for Vygotsky cognitive development meansgaining the ability to mediate one's own thinking".
To achieve self-regulation, internalization is a prerequisite. Vygotsky (1994) believesthat what differentiate human beings and other living creatures most are their higher formsof consciousness such as voluntary attention, planning, intentional memory, logical thoughtand problem solving. These higher forms of consciousness are developed by integrating orinternalizing social interactions with others and cultural artifacts into thinking. In this way，what appears on the interpsychological plane will be promoted to the intrapsychologicalplane. Luria (1979, p. 45) asserts that by internalization of cultural artifacts “the socialnature of people comes to be their psychological nature as weir. Through internalizationhumans achieve self-regulation, gaining control over their thinking. However，peoplecannot internalize everything at their own will but can only internalize what is within theirZone of Proximal Development (ZPD).
Chapter 3 Methodology ...........16
3.1 Research Questions..........16
3.2 Pilot Studies .......... 17
3.3 Main Study..........17
3.3.1 Test Materials Used in the Main Study .......... 17
3.3.2 The Participants in the Main Study.......... 19
3.3.3 Procedures.......... 20
Chapter 4 Data Analysis .......... 22
4.1 Analyzing Data from Pilot Studies.......... 22
4.2 Analyzing Data from Main Study..........25
Chapter 5 Discussion.......... 43
5.1 Diagnosing Learners’ Developmental Levels.......... 43
5.2 Tracing Learners" Development.......... 54
Chapter 5 Discussion
5.1 Diagnosing Learners' Developmental Levels
First, if one looks at Table 4.1，4.2 and 4.3 from the viewpoint of traditionalassessment the impression is probably that some learners can translate the sentencecorrectly while others cannot. If one looks at the tables from the viewpoint of DA, theimpression is that learners make all kinds of mistakes concerning one grammatical featureand they may call for different mediation strategies to successfully correct exactly the samemistake. For each target grammatical feature, first the past perfect, then the passive voiceand last the relative clause, the author will select two typical examples to illustrate thepoint.One can see from Table 4.1 that in DA 1 for sentence 5 Jack used “was empty” andYale used “is empty" when “had been empty” is the most appropriate form. Judging froman SA viewpoint, one may reach the conclusion that Jack's sentence is more close to thecorrect form while Yale has produced a totally inaccurate one, and one cannot know forsure whether they know how to use the past perfect. However, judging from a DAviewpoint, one can not only get some clues concerning this question by looking into theresponsiveness of the learners to the mediation, the kind and the amount of mediation theyneed to correct the errors and even get a totally different viewpoint on their developmentallevels concerning the target structure.
This thesis is among the first empirical studies on dynamic assessment in ChineseEFL context. The author intends to apply interactionist DA to low-level English learnersand find out whether DA can help to diagnose EFL learners" developmental levels withregard to the target grammatical features more accurately and promote their developmentat the same time.The author chose three grammatical structures which according to the pilot study werethe language points that the participants had great difficulty in. The 4-week main study wascomposed of 5 SA sessions (SA 1，2, 3，posttest and transcendence task), and 4 DAsessions (DA 1, 2，3 and transfer DA session). The author strictly followed Aljaafreh andLantolf's (1994) mechanisms of successful intervention mentioned in chapter 2 andprovided implicit-to-explicit form of mediation which all arose from themoment-to-moment mediator-learner interaction. By analyzing all the interactions in theDA sessions, the author summarized the major nine kinds of mediation strategies employedin this study and documented what kind of mediation strategy each learner needed tocorrect the error.