MASK – Modeling of integrated academic-language compentences

The aim of the MASK project is the empirical foundation of the competence construct that underlies the successful completion of integrated academic-language tasks in a Lingua-Franca context (English as second language). The core element for achieving this goal is the development and testing of valid criteria for evaluating integrated writing products, which are used to record the skills required for the successful task processing.

Project Description

With the increasing internationalisation of higher education, academic-linguistic competences of students are not only required in their first language (L1), but also in foreign and second languages (L2). English as a lingua franca is of particular importance here. In the area of international degree programmes, there have been studies on academic-language requirements, but these usually focus on the competencies of international students. On the other hand, the competence requirements of German students in the language of instruction English have not been researched in international degree programs.

Written language skills are of particular importance in the university context, especially the production of texts on the basis of previously read texts (reading into writing), both in German and English-speaking degree programmes. There is a broad consensus in the literature that academic literacy skills in L2 comprise several sub-skills and should therefore be considered multidimensional. In addition to writing skills, the construct includes reading skills. Furthermore, the construct is characterized by general foreign language skills, knowledge of discourse synthesis within specific cultural and sociolinguistic contexts, and the ability to interpret the context of writing tasks. However, there is a need for research on the question of whether academic literacy in L2 can be fully explained by the sum of underlying sub-competences, or whether additional specific competences are required to cope with the combined demands.

Project Objectives

The overall goal of the project is to empirically establish the competence construct underlying the successful completion of integrated academic-linguistic tasks in a Lingua Franca context. The core element for achieving this goal is the development and testing of valid criteria for the evaluation of integrated writing products. The assumption that the evaluation criteria capture the academic-linguistic competencies of interest in a comprehensive and differentiated manner is to be validated by empirically testing the following assumptions on the basis of a larger student sample:

  1. The test results of high and low quality writing products differ in a predictable manner.
  2. Criteria for evaluating integrated writing products based on human raters and computer-based text analysis have a multi-dimensional structure with superordinate dimensions: (1) linguistic quality, (2) quality of discourse synthesis and (3) quality of source text processing.
  3. Test results can be an indicator for the performance success/failure during the first year of English-language studies.


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  • Centre for Technology Based Assessment (TBA)
  • Prof. Torsten Zesch, Duisburg-Essen University
  • Prof. Pablo Pirnay-Dummer, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Project Management

Project Team

Ximena Delgado Osorio

Project Details

Current project
Area of Focus Education in the Digital World
Department: Teacher and Teaching Quality
Unit: Educational Measurement
Education Sectors: Higher Education, Primary and Secondary Education
01/2020 – 12/2023
External funding
Contact: Ximena Delgado Osorio, Doctoral Candidate