When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
English has played an important role in China, and it has been given an important status in the school curriculum. However, only less than 1% of Chinese EFL learners are conversational (Smith, 2017). How to improve learners’ task accomplishment, communicative competence, and L2 Willingness to Communicate (WTC) are the main challenges in the Chinese EFL context. Previous studies have examined the effects of task repetition on L2 oral performance in terms of accuracy, fluency, and complexity. Fewer studies, however, have examined the effects of task repetition on task accomplishment, communicative competence, and L2 WTC.
Using data collected in four EFL classrooms in a Chinese university over nine weeks, this study examined the impact of task repetition on task accomplishment, communicative competence, and L2 WTC. Pre-test, post-test, and delayed post-test assessing students’ task accomplishment, communicative competence, and L2 WTC were performed in week 1, week 5, and week 9. Four classes of Chinese university students were divided into four groups: procedural repetition (n = 27), content repetition (n = 23), identical task repetition (n = 28), and a control group (n = 29). Students in the three repetition groups performed a treatment task once a week for three weeks. Students in the control group followed the regular curriculum without carrying out any tasks. Four trained raters rated students’ task accomplishment and communicative competence based on two rubrics. L2 WTC data consisted of two parts: trait WTC operationalized as a WTC questionnaire and state WTC operationalized as self-rated WTC immediately after each test. Interviews with students were conducted to learn their perception of L2 learning and WTC in week 1 and week 9. A mixed ANOVA using SPSS was carried out to see if students have changed in terms of task accomplishment, communicative competence, and L2 WTC over time.
Results indicated that task repetition did not significantly affect task accomplishment, communicative competence, and L2 WTC. However, students in all four groups improved their task accomplishment and L2 WTC over time. Implications are discussed in terms of how to teach and assess with tasks in the Chinese EFL context.