Volume 2, Issue 1  April 2019, pp. 20–40          Download PDF

Sign language learning and assessment in German Switzerland: Exploring the potential of vocabulary size tests for Swiss German Sign Language

Tobias Haug1, Sarah Ebling2, Penny Boyes Braem3, Katja Tissi4, Sandra Sidler-Miserez5

1 Interkantonale Hochschule fuer Heilpaedagogik & Sign Language Assessment Services, Switzerland tobias.haug@slas.ch
2 Interkantonale Hochschule fuer Heilpaedagogik, Switzerland sarah.ebling@hfh.ch
3 Interkantonale Hochschule fuer Heilpaedagogik & Centre for Sign Language Research Basel, Switzerland boyesbraem@gmail.com
4 Interkantonale Hochschule fuer Heilpaedagogik, Switzerland katja.tissi@hfh.ch
5 Interkantonale Hochschule fuer Heilpaedagogik, Switzerland sandysidler@gmail.com

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/lea.v2n1.85


In German Switzerland the learning and assessment of Swiss German Sign Language (Deutschschweizerische Gebärdensprache, DSGS) takes place in different contexts, for example, in tertiary education or in continuous education courses. By way of the still ongoing implementation of the Common European Framework of Reference for DSGS, different tests and assessment procedures are currently been developed and their potential are explored to support the learning and assessment of DSGS. Examples of this are two vocabulary size tests. The first is a web-delivered Yes/No Test, the second a Translation Test from written German to DSGS. For both tests, the same set of items was used. The items were sampled from DSGS teaching materials. For the development of the two vocabulary size tests, 20 DSGS adult learners of ages 24 to 55 (M = 39.3) were recruited as test takers. An item analysis of the test results yielded candidates for removal from the item set. Cronbach's Alpha showed good results for both tests (>.90), and inter-rater reliability of the translation test also indicated promising results (Cohen's Kappa = .613, p <.001). Evidence contributing to content validity was collected based on the sampling method of the test items. Due to the lack of a second DSGS vocabulary test that could be used to establish concurrent validity, external variables were identified and investigated as possible external criteria contributing to the performance of the test takers. One variable, number of courses attended, showed a significant correlation with the test results.


© Tobias Haug, Sarah Ebling, Penny Boyes Braem, Katja Tissi, Sandra Sidler-Miserez

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

Suggested citation

Haug, T., Ebling, S., Boyes Braem, P., Tissi, K., & Sidler-Miserez, S. (2019). Sign language learning and assessment in German Switzerland: Exploring the potential of vocabulary size tests for Swiss German Sign Language. Language Education & Assessment, 2(1), 20–40. https://doi.org/10.29140/lea.v2n1.85

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