Elena Cotos, Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics & Technology, received a grant from the Educational Testing Service recently for 2015-17. The project is titled “Domain Description: Validating the Interpretation of TOEFL iBT® Speaking Scores for ITA Screening and Certification Purposes.”
In addition to using TOEFL iBT® scores for admission purposes, English medium universities are increasingly considering the utility of the speaking test as an instrument for the assessment of oral English language ability of international teaching assistants (ITAs). Therefore, obtaining validity evidence to demonstrate the usefulness of the TOEFL iBT® speaking scores for this application is imperative. The proposed research aims to gather evidence supporting the validity argument for interpreting the TOEFL iBT® speaking scores as indicators of the language ability necessary for effective ITA performance in target instructional domains of language use. Employing the argument-based approach to validation, the inquiry centers on investigating an assumption associated with the Domain Description inference in the TOEFL interpretive argument (Chapelle, Enright, & Jamieson, 2008). Specifically, functional language use in the lecture, recitation, and lab curriculum genres will be analyzed to determine whether the language functions elicited by TOEFL iBT® Speaking tasks are representative of language functions used in the target domain.