Gary Ockey


Office:349 Ross
527 Farm House Ln.
Ames IA


Courses I am Teaching

Engl 99S: Non-native Speaking
Engl / Ling 219: Introduction to Linguistics
Engl / Ling 511: Introduction to Linguistic analysis
Engl / Ling 519: Second Language Assessment
Engl / Ling 623: Research Methods for Applied Linguistics
Engl / Ling 630: Development of Language Assessments
Engl / Ling 630: Quantitative Methods for Applied Linguistics
Engl / Ling 630: Psychometric Methods for Language Testing


Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, Applied Linguistics (language assessment and quantitative methods)

M.A., University of Utah, Linguistics

Secondary Teaching Endorsement, Southern Utah University (science and math)

B.S., University of Utah, Psychology (research methods and personality theory)

Research Areas

Assessment of second language proficiency. Task design and rating scale development for oral communication. Quantitative methods including: ANOVA, regression, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, item response theory, many facet Rasch measurement, differential item functioning, generalizability theory, test equating, and standard setting.

About My Teaching

Gaining a better understanding of language can help us in many aspects of our lives. In my classes, I try to motivate students to investigate how they use and evaluate others’ use of language. Many of us, especially those of us who have been teachers, have had bad experiences with tests. I try to help students recognize that tests can be used in both positive and negative ways, and it is our responsibility to do all that we reasonably can to develop the best tests possible and do our best to ensure their proper use.

How I came to Teach Applied Linguistics

I started my career as an English teacher at the high school level in Taiwan. Along with finding what I enjoy in life—teaching, this experience helped me to understand the importance of language as a tool for communication. I also began to learn about language assessment. Even though the focus of the classes I taught was conversation, most exams were made up of multiple-choice grammar items. I noted that the students who could orally interact well did not necessarily do well on the exams, while some students who did well on the exams were not effective oral communicators. This experience led me to devote much of my career to creating better oral assessments.

I spent more than 15 years teaching English and training English teachers in Taiwan, Thailand, and Japan. I have also trained practicing K-12 teachers in the United States who desired to obtain an endorsement in Teaching English as a Second Language.

I came to Iowa State University from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), where I conducted research on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). I spent most of my time working on the speaking and listening sections of the test. While at ETS, I also served as the editor for the TOEFL Research Report Series and coordinator of the TOEFL Committee of Examiners research program.

In addition to teaching and research, I serve as: a coordinator of the ISU second language English placement test, an Editor for Language Assessment Quarterly, and a member of the ISU Institutional Review Board (IRB.


Ockey, G. J., & Chukharev-Hudilainen, E. (2018-2020). Assessing interactional competence: Machine vs. human task delivery. Educational Testing Service. $100,000

Ockey, G. J., Laughlin, V., & Davis, L. (2014-2016). Evaluating feasibility and user reactions to an interactive speaking test capability for assessing a broad construct of speaking ability. Educational Testing Service. Iowa State University portion: $13,455

Recent and Future Publications


Ockey, G. J. (commissioned). Introducing Language Assessment. Cambridge University Press. (Expected publication 2023).

Ockey, G. J., & Green, B. A. (Eds.). (2020). Another generation of fundamental considerations in language testing: A festshrift in honor of Lyle F. Bachman. Springer.

Ockey, G. J., & Wagner, E. (2018). Assessment of Second Language Listening: Moving towards authenticity. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Journal articles, book chapters, and monographs

Ockey, G. J., Chukharev-Hudilainen, E., & Hirch, R. (in press). Assessing interactional competence: ICE vs a human partner. Language Assessment Quarterly [Special Issue].

Ockey, G. J. (in press). Assessing Listening. In E. Wagner, A. Batty, & E. Galaczi (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition and Listening. Routledge.

Ockey, G. J. (2022) Item response theory and Many-facet Rasch measurement. In G. Fulcher, & L. Harding (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Language Testing. Routledge.

Ockey, G. J., & Neiriz, R. (2021). Evaluating technology-mediated second language oral communication assessment delivery models. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 28(4), 350-368.

Chukharev-Hudilainen, E., & Ockey, G. J. (2021). The Development and Evaluation of Interactional Competence Elicitor (ICE) for Oral Language Assessments. ETS Research report. Educational Testing Service.

Xi, X., Norris, J., Ockey, G. J., Fulcher, G., & Purpura, J. E. (2021). Assessing academic speaking. In X. Xi & J. Norris (Eds.). Assessing academic English (pp. 152-199. Routledge.

Ockey, G. J. (2021). (Ed.). The quest to maintain language assessment quality during a pandemic: Stories from higher education. Language Assessment Quarterly, 18(1), 1-79, [Special Issue]

Ockey, G. J., & Chukharev-Hudilainen, E. (2021). Human vs computer partner in the paired oral discussion test. Applied Linguistics 42(5), 924–944.

Ockey, G. J., Vo, S., & Baghestani, S. (2021). Establishing appropriate cut scores of a standardized test for a local placement context. TESOL Quarterly 55(3), 719-742.

Current Research

I am currently working on a number of projects. One that occupies much of my time is writing about the construct of oral communication. With the advances in technology, how we conceptualize the ability to orally communicate with others has changed dramatically, and I am trying to capture these changes and their implications for assessing second language oral ability. This work is directly related to the current development of the oral communication section of the Iowa State University English Placement Test, which was first administered in the fall of 2017.

Outside of the University

I enjoy playing disc golf with my wife and children.