Dynamic Assessment of Incidental Vocabularies: A Case of Iranian ESP Learners

Sepideh Hanifi, Mahdi Nasiri, Hesamuddin Aliasin


Dynamic assessment (DA), stemmed from both Vygotsky’s (1978) learning theory and Feuerstein’s (1979) theory of mediated learning experiences, is an alternative to static assessment. It focuses on both instruction and assessment aiming at promoting learning through mediation.  DA has been widely researched in different linguistic areas, but there is paucity of research on its practice in ESP contexts. Accordingly, this study investigated the effectiveness of DA on incidental vocabularies emerging in technical reading textbooks, written for electronic engineering students. The study employed a quasi-experimental research design. Due to sample selection problems, an intact group of 25 BA electronic students were selected from the University of Zanjan. A pre-test was administered to check whether they had previous knowledge of the target words, incidentally acquired during the reading activity. As for the instrument stage, DA procedures were utilized in order to individualize participants’ assessment. Following DA implementation, a post-test similar in content to pre-test, was administered to the same participants. The significance of DA for the enhancement of incidental vocabularies was to make participants aware of the strategies of identifying, evaluating and monitoring vocabularies (Nassaji, 2003) through mediation process.  The results indicated that participants' incidental vocabulary learning promoted dramatically using DA, which employed structured hints for the mediation process.  The results of this study can inform both teachers and learners to provide a step by step procedure to promote both teaching and assessment of ESP learners' vocabulary.

Keywords: Dynamic Assessment, Incidental Vocabulary Learning, ESP Learners, ZPD, mediation 

Full Text:



Ajideh, P. & Nourdad, N. (2013). Dynamic Assessment Revealing Individual Differences in EFL Reading Comprehension Ability. International Journal of Social Sciences and Education, 3(2), 340-350.

Ajideh, P., Farrokhi, F., & Nourdad, N, 2012. Dynamic assessment of EFL reading: revealing hidden aspects at different level. World Journal of Education, 2(4).

Alibakhshi, G., Ghand Ali, H., & Padiz, D. (2011). Teaching and Testing ESP at Iranian Universities: A Critical View. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(6), 1346-1352.

Amirian, Z. & Tavakoli, M. (2009). Reassessing the ESP courses offered to Engineering students in Iran. English for Specific Purposes, 8(23).

Beak, S and Jin Kim, K. (2003). The effect of dynamic assessment based instruction on children's learning. Asia Pacific Education Review, 4(2), 189-198.

Birjandi, P., Estaji, M. & Deyhim, T. (2013). The Impact of Dynamic Assessment on Reading Comprehension and Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategy Use in Iranian High School Learners. Iranian Journal of Language Testing, 3(2).

Carney, J.J., & Cioffi, G. (1992). The dynamic assessment of reading abilities. International Journal of disability development and education, 39(2), 107-114.

Cole, M., & Engestrom, Y. (1993). A cultural historical approach to distributed cognition. In Salomon, G. (Ed.). (1997). Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Donato, R. & MacCormick, D. (1994). A Sociocultural Perspective on Language Learning Strategies: The Role of Mediation. The modern Language Journal, 78(4), 453-464.

Dudley-Evans, T., & St John, M. J. (1998). Developments in English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, R. (1999). Learning a Second Language through Interaction. Netherland: John Benjamins publishing.

Gillam, R., Pena, E. & Miller, L. (1999). Dynamic assessment of narrative and expository discourse. Topics in Language Disorder, 20(1), 33.

Hassaskhah, J. & Javan Haghparast, M. (2012). A comparative study of the impact of DA models on the writing ability and attitude of Iranian EFL learners. Buckingham Journal of Language & Linguistics, 5(38).

Haywood, C. H. & Lidz, C. S, 2007. Dynamic assessment in practice: Clinical and educational applications. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Hulstijn, J. (2001). Intentional and incidental second language vocabulary learning: A reappraisal of elaboration, rehearsal and automaticity. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language acquisition instruction (pp. 258-286). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hutchinson, T. & Waters, A. (1987). English for specific purposes: A learning-centered approach. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Jafary, M., Nordin, N. & Mohajeri, R. (2012). The Effect of Dynamic versus Static Assessment on Syntactic Development of Iranian College Preparatory EFL Learners. English Language Teaching, 5(7).

Lantolf, J. P. & Poehner, M. E. (2004a). Dynamic assessment of L2 development: Bringing the past into the future. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(1), 49- 72.

Laufer, B. (2006). Comparing Focus on Form and Focus on FormS in second language vocabulary learning. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63, 149-166.

Leung, C. (2007). Dynamic assessment: Assessment for and as teaching? Language assessment quarterly: An International Journal, 4, 257-278.

Lidz, C. & Gindis, B. (2003). Dynamic assessment of the evolving cognitive functions in children. In A. Kozulin, B. Gindis, V. Ageyev, & S. Miller (Eds.), Vygotsky's educational theory in cultural context (pp. 293-357), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Lidz, C. (1991). Practitioner's Guide to Dynamic Assessment. New York City: Guilford Press

Mardani, M. & Tavakoli, M. (2011). Beyond Reading Comprehension: The Effect of Adding a Dynamic Assessment Component on EFL Reading Comprehension. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(3), 688-696.

Milton, J. (2009). Measuring second language vocabulary acquisition. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Moslemi, F., Moinzadeh, A. & Dabaghi, A. (2011). ESP Needs Analysis of Iranian MA Students: A Case study of the University of Isfahan. English Language Teaching, 4(4), 121-128.

Nassaji, H. (2003). L2 vocabulary learning from context: Strategies, knowledge sources and their relationship with success in L2 lexical inferencing. TESOL Quarterly, 37, 645-670.

Nassaji, H. (2004). The Relationship between Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge and L2 Learners’ Lexical Inferencing Strategy Use and Success. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 61, 107-134.

Nirmalakhandan N. (2012). Improving problem-solving skills of undergraduates through computerized dynamic assessment. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 615 – 621.

Nito, R. (2004). Vocabulary & ESP: Teaching Business Vocabulary. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/46984761/ESP.

Nourzadeh, S., & Khatib, M. (2012). Incidental L2 Vocabulary Acquisition through Reading comprehension, Issues, Arguments and controversies. Journal of Academic and Applied Studies, 2(2), 1- 11.

Orikasa, M. (2010). Interactionist Dynamic Assessment in L2 Learning: A Case Study of Tutoring L2 English Oral Communication. Retrieved from http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/20258

Poehner M. E. (2008). Dynamic Assessment: A Vygotskian approach to understanding and promoting L2 development, New York: Springers.

Poehner, M. E. & Lantolf, J. P. (2005). Dynamic assessment in the language classroom. Language Teaching Research, 9(3), 233–265.

Rajabi, P., Kiani, G. H. R. and Maftoon, P. (2012). ESP in-service teacher training programs: Dot they change Iranian teacher's beliefs, classroom practices and student's achievements? Iberica 24, 261-282.

Saeidi, M. and Hosseinpour, A. (2013). The Effect of Dynamic Assessment as an Instructional Tool on Iranian EFL Learners’ Vocabulary Learning. Journal of basic and applied scientific research, 3(10), 421-429.

Sarani, A. and Sahebi, L. (2012). The impact of task-based approach on vocabulary learning in ESP courses. English Language Teaching, 5(10), 118-128.

Tzuriel, D. (2001). Dynamic assessment of young children. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MS: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1998). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Vol. 6. Robert W. Rieber (Ed.). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press.

Wertsch, J. V. (1985). Vygotsky and the social formation of mind. F. Smolucha (Ed.) and Trans. Cambridge, MS: Harvard University Press.

Zeeland, H., Schmitt, N. (2013). Incidental vocabulary acquisition through L2 listening: A dimensions approach. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2013.07.012


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.