The Size of Multi-Word Units Used in English O-NET Exams and the Influence of Multi-Word Units Used in English O-NET Exams on Learners’ Test Performance

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Supika Nirattisai


This research aimed to study 1) the percentage of multi-word units used in
English O-NET exams, 2) the influence of multi-word units used in English O-NET
exams on learners’ test performance, and 3) the multi-word level of learners. The participants in this study were 321 Thai students of grade 12. There were 3 research instruments consisting of 1) the English O-NET exams for grade 12 students, 2) the instruments for analyzing multi-word units, and 3) the multi-word test. The findings showed that the average amount of multi-word units used in the 2005-2010 and 2015-2018 O-NET exams was 1.48%. In analyzing the average amount of multi-word units in each O-NET exam, the results revealed that the highest amount of multi-word units was found in the 2016 O-NET (2.40%). In total, the average amount of multi-word units used in the O-NET exams (1.48%) did not affect the participants’ text comprehension and test performance because the amount was less than the sufficient number for learners to comprehend each text at 2% (Hu & Nation, 2000; Schmitt, Jiang & Grabe, 2011). However, among all the O-NET exams, the amount of multi-word units which is more than the adequate number for their text comprehension at 2% can be found merely in the 2016 O-NET (2.40%); this amount of multi-word units affected the participants’ text comprehension and test performance. According to the participants’ knowledge of multi-word units, they had the average scores of 8.63 or 17.26%. This research work will benefit greatly the O-NET development committees by contributing to the planning and improvement of the use of multi-word units in English O-NET exams. Moreover, it also raises teachers’ awareness about students’ low level of multi-word knowledge and might encourage them to teach English multi-word units explicitly in class.


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