Inthe modern world, listening is the activity which is used most frequently inlife. A previous research carried out by Sperry Corporation (Martel, 1984) claims that people use 80% oftheir conscious time for communication, and out of which, 45% was used tolisten, and other 30%, 16% and 9% to speak, read and write respectively.Therefore, it is obvious that listening plays a vital role in gaininginformation. In fact, communication becomes impossible if people cannotcomprehend what they hear.
AsNunan (2004) stated, listening is the Cinderella skill in second languagelearning. All of the time, this skill has been overlooked by its elder sister,speaking. For most people, being able to claim the knowledge of a secondlanguage means being able to speak and write in that language. Therefore,listening and reading are considered as secondary aim and mostly as means toother ends instead of ends themselves. However, listening is always a keyconcept to language learning, because it is obvious that communication does nottake place if interlocutors cannot comprehend each other due to lack of abilityto understand what the other side of conversation is saying.Along with the increasing use of computers in languageteaching, English learning websites are expanding dramatically.
As this trendhas made it difficult for users to choose the right ones, “all teachers need toknow how to use the Web as a resource for current authentic language materialsin written, audio, and visual formats” (Chapelle & Hegelheimer, 2004, p.305). It has been, therefore, increasingly important to evaluate thosematerials systematically before use (Chapelle & Hegelheimer, 2004; Fotos &Browne, 2004).
In this study, a computer-based assessment system wasemployed for teaching listening skills supporting the listening syllabus at thedepartment, and investigated its effects on listening skills development. Thefollowing research question was addressed in the study. Q: Does dynamic assessment viaCoolspeech software have any statistically significant effect on Iranian EFLlearners’ listening comprehension ability?1. Literature Review According to Lidz and Gindis (2003, p.100), learners’abilities are not innate and stable, but dynamic and emergent, thus they cannotbe measured in traditional way; the abilities are the outcome of learners’history of social interactions in the world (cited in Shabani et al, 2010).
Each individual learner developed their cognitive functions throughparticipating in variety of social activities through being mediated by variouscultural artifacts (Shabani et al, 2010). According to Vygotsky (1998), whiletraditional assessment only measures fully matured abilities, dynamicassessment measures both fully matured abilities and abilities which are stillin the process of maturing, therefore, dynamic assessment can reveal much moreabout the process of acquiring those information (Poehner, (2008); Shabaniet al, 2010). According to Vygotsky, traditional psychological assessments are descriptiveand do not explain developmental processes (Shabani et al, 2010).
Vygotsky(1984, p.165) argued that by putting a learner’s ZPD at the center of theassessment procedure, the instructors will be able to directly study anddetermine the level of mental maturation that must be completed in thesubsequent period of his age development (Vygotsky, 1984, p.165, cited inMinick, 1987, p.118).According to Lantolf and Poehner (2004), dynamicassessment procedures see the future as a bet in favor of everyone (Shabani etal, 2010). As Sternberg and Grigorenko (2002, p.29) argued in the context ofdynamic assessment, the tester-testee relationship is changed, as the testerintervenes during the test. In DA context, an atmosphere of teaching andhelping substitutes the traditional neutrality attitude of non-dynamicassessment context (Shabani et al, 2010).