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The Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Tasks Important for Academic Success at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels TOEFL

Rosenfeld, Michael; Leung, Susan; Oltman, Philip K.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Language Testing, Task Analysis, Validity, International Students, Communication Skills


The primary purposes of this project were: 1) to aid in translating theoretical frameworks developed in reading, writing, speaking, and listening by the TOEFL Framework Teams into task statements that undergraduate and graduate students need to perform in order to complete their academic programs; 2) to have undergraduate and graduate faculty experienced in teaching nonnative speakers of English, as well as undergraduate and graduate students who are nonnative speakers of English, review and evaluate the statements through a survey; 3) to provide analyses of these results that aid in the design of test specifications and assessment measures for TOEFL 2000; and 4) to document these results to help support the validity of TOEFL 2000. Toward this end, 155 undergraduate faculty, 215 graduate faculty, 103 undergraduate students, and 242 graduate students from 21 universities across the United States and Canada rate 24 task statements developed from the frameworks. Both faculty and students rated the importance of each task statement to the successful completion of coursework; in addition, faculty indicated the degree to which tasks are more often characteristic of more academically successful, nonnative speakers than their less successful counterparts. Responses were analyzed by respondent groups as well as specific subgroups. The results obtained confirm the judgements of the linguistic specialists who formulated the tasks. Faculty and students agree that the tasks are relevant and important for completing coursework at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These findings support the use of this pool of tasks in the design of both test specification and assessment measures for undergraduate and graduate students across a wide range of subject areas.

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