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A Teacher-Verification Study of Speaking and Writing Prototype Tasks for a New TOEFL TOEFL

Cumming, Alister; Grant, Leslie; Mulcahy-Ernt, Patricia; Powers, Donald E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Test Validity, Test Content, Authenticity, Instructors' Perceptions, Integrated Language Tasks, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)


This study was undertaken, in conjunction with other studies field-testing prototype tasks for a new Test of English as a Foreign Language™ (TOEFL®), to evaluate the content validity, perceived authenticity, and educational appropriateness of these prototype tasks. We interviewed 7 highly experienced instructors of English as a second language (ESL) at 3 universities, asking them to rate their students' abilities in English and to review samples of their students' performance to determine whether they thought 7 prototype speaking and writing tasks being field-tested for a new version of the TOEFL test (a) represented the domain of academic English required for studies at English-medium universities or colleges in North America, (b) elicited performance from their adult ESL students that corresponded to their usual performance in ESL classes and course assignments, and (c) realized the evidence claims on which the tasks had been designed. The instructors thought that most of their students' performances on the prototype test tasks were equivalent to or better than their usual performances in classes. The instructors viewed positively the new prototype tasks that required students to write or to speak in reference to reading or listening source texts, but they observed certain problems with these novel tasks and suggested ways that the content and presentation might be improved for the formative development of these tasks.

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