Title

Validation of the Modern Language Aptitude Test

Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

R. Steve McCallum

Committee Members

Sherry Mee Bell, Clara Lee Brown, Dolly Young

Abstract

To determine the utility of the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT; Carroll & Sapon, 1959, 2002) to predict foreign (FL) and native language (NL) learning for foreign language students, it was administered to 347 college students in introductory (100- level) foreign language courses along with measures of reading and reading-related skills (e.g., ND; Nelson-Denny Reading Test; Brown, Fishco, & Hanna, 1993). All correlation coefficients between MLAT and ND scores and FL exam grades are significant at the .001 level except for the MLAT Spelling Clues subtest, which is significant at the .05 level. These correlation coefficients range from .13 to .32. In the context of a stepwise multiple regression, MLAT Number Learning is the strongest and only statistically significant predictor of FL students’ exam grades (French, German, and Spanish students combined; p < .001). When considering French, German, and Spanish students’ subtests separately, none of the MLAT subtest scores significantly predict French course exam scores. MLAT Phonetic Script is the only significant predictor of German students’ exam grades (p < .05). The MLAT Number Learning subtest predicts significantly Spanish students’ exam grades (p < .01) and the MLAT Phonetic Script subtest adds an additional 3% of variance in the Spanish students’ exam scores (p < .05). Results of a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) show the composite means of the three MLAT subtests do not differ between students who claim to have a learning disability and those who do not. The MLAT Spelling Clues subtest significantly predicts FL students’ ND Comprehension scores (p < .001), and the Phonetic Script subtest adds an additional 3% of variance in the Comprehension scores (p < .01). MLAT Spelling Clues is the only significant predictor of FL students’ ND Reading Rate scores (p < .001). In general, the MLAT is only modestly to moderately related to relevant FL and NL performance as defined in this study, and educators should be cautious about making judgments based on its scores.

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