Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) research projects

TOEFL is the most widely used English language test in the world, used principally for the selection of students from non-English-speaking backgrounds for entry to higher education in the US and elsewhere.

Centre staff and associates have a long history of association with the TOEFL program through service on the TOEFL Committee of Examiners and the TOEFL Board, as well as through the conduct of TOEFL-related research. In 2015, the LTRC was awarded two new grants through the internationally competitive grant scheme, which started in early 2016. Both projects detailed below are due for completion in late 2018.

Project 1

TOEFL writing

Using a verbal reporting methodology, this study is designed to investigate the strategic behaviours displayed by test takers across three proficiency levels when completing the TOEFL iBT (internet Based Test) integrated writing task.

It is anticipated that the results will build on current understanding of the skill integration processes used by second language learners at different levels of ability and proficiency with the view to (1) providing validity evidence for the TOEFL iBT integrated writing task, (2) arriving at a theoretical model of skill integration, and (3) providing insights to further inform and improve current information processing models.

Project 2

TOEFL speaking

In this project, we are investigating the way test takers across three proficiency levels use information from reading and listening passages in their responses to a TOEFL iBT integrated speaking task. We combine discourse analytic and verbal report methods to analyse two sets of relationships: relationships between the content test takers produce and content from the source texts; and relationships between test takers' strategy use and the way content from source materials is integrated into performances. Findings will provide theoretical insights into the nature of the reading- and listening-to-speak construct, particularly the way in which strategies interact with comprehension skills, speaking ability and task characteristics to impact the spoken discourse produced by test takers.