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The Impact of Changes in the TOEFL Exam on Teaching in a Sample of Countries in Europe: Phase 3, The Role of the Coursebook. Phase 4, Describing Change

Author(s):
Wall, Dianne; Horak, Tania
Publication Year:
2011
Report Number:
RR-11-41, TOEFLiBT-17
Source:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Report
Page Count:
181
Subject/Key Words:
Computer-Based Testing (CBT) Coursebook Europe Impact Internet Based Testing (iBT) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Washback Effect [Testing]

Abstract

The aim of this report is to present the findings of the 3rd and 4th phases of a longitudinal study into the impact of changes in the TOEFL exam on teaching in test preparation classrooms. Phase 1 (2003–2004) described the type of teaching taking place in 12 TOEFL preparation classrooms before the introduction of the new TOEFL. Phase 2 (2004–2006) followed 6 of the Phase 1 teachers as they became aware of the requirements of the new test and faced the challenges of designing new courses to help students to prepare for it effectively. The objectives of the Phase 3 study (2006–2007) were to analyze the coursebooks that 4 of these teachers were using as they continued to prepare students for the TOEFL computer-based test (CBT) and began to plan courses for the TOEFL iBT, and to find out how the teachers were using the coursebooks as they developed their courses and planned individual classroom sessions. The coursebook analysis revealed that the TOEFL iBT coursebooks differed considerably from the TOEFL CBT coursebooks in terms of content, with the inclusion of integrated writing tasks and independent and integrated speaking tasks and the absence of attention to grammatical form on its own. They did not differ greatly in terms of their general methodological approach, however. Information about how the teachers used their coursebooks was gathered via tracking questions and tasks eliciting self-report data. The coursebooks seemed to be playing an important role in shaping the teachers’ understanding of the requirements of the new TOEFL, and the teachers depended on them heavily as they developed their courses and planned their lessons. The objectives of Phase 4 (2007–2008) were to interview and observe 3 of the same teachers, to find out what their preparation classes looked like 1 year after the introduction of the TOEFL iBT in their countries. While some aspects of teaching seemed not to have changed greatly, considerable changes occurred in the amount of attention the teachers paid to the development of speaking and to the integration of different skills. The teachers differed from each other in how much they had changed their methods to develop their students’ language skills. The report concludes with a discussion of the role the new test, new coursebooks, and other factors in the educational context played in shaping current practices in these TOEFL preparation classrooms.

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