Announcement of the TOEFL COE 2011 Research Program

Francis Hult francis.hult at
Sat Apr 24 13:45:43 UTC 2010

Via AAAL...

Preliminary applications described below should be submitted via e-mail to Toeflrc at <mailto:Toeflrc at>  by June 18, 2010.

Purpose - TOEFL Committee of Examiners (COE) research grants are intended to support research on topics related to TOEFL as identified by the Committee of Examiners and Educational Testing Service.  

Award Value - Studies involving the collection of new empirical data will normally be funded up to $125,000 USD.  This amount will be inclusive of institutional overhead.

Research Topics


1.1 Compare the characteristics of tasks used in one or more of the TOEFL iBT sections (Speaking, Reading, Listening, Writing) with real-life academic tasks.

1.2 Compare candidates 'performance in one or more of the TOEFL iBT sections (Speaking, Reading, Listening, Writing) with their performance on real-life academic tasks.

1.3 Compare the characteristics of TOEFL iBT reading, writing, listening, and/or speaking tasks with those used in one or more other assessments of English for Academic Purposes.


2.1 Investigate the effects of international differences in keyboard configurations on candidates' performance on the TOEFL iBT.

2.2 Investigate the role of affective factors (e.g., test anxiety, attitudes, motivation) on TOEFL iBT performance.



3.1 Investigate the effects of the TOEFL iBT on teaching and learning.

3.2 Investigate approaches, practices, and materials used by test-takers to prepare for the TOEFL iBT and analyze their usefulness.

3.3 Investigate the effects of test preparation courses and materials on TOEFL iBT test performance and English language proficiency.


4.1 Investigate the ways in which TOEFL scores (iBT or institutional TOEFL) are used by intensive English institutes and English for academic purposes programs preparing students for entry into higher education.

4.2 Investigate the uses of TOEFL iBT scores and subscores (possibly combined with other academic information) for one or more of the following decision making purposes: (a) policy (admissions, financial support, licensing, accountability, immigration), (b) program (placement and promotion), or (c) pedagogy.

TOEFL iBT dataset and research instrument available to COE-funded researchers

The dataset and research instrument described below will be made available to principal investigators funded by the TOEFL COE research program if needed. 

TOEFL iBT Public Use Dataset

Three separate datasets from each of 2 test forms are available and include demographic information about test-takers (age, gender, native language, etc) and copies of relevant test material:

*       Set 1. Item level scores on all sections of the test for a random sample of 1,000 examinees from each form (2,000 examinees total).

*       Set 2. Speech samples and the final score for each of six speaking tasks for 240 examinees, stratified by quartiles, from each form (480 examinees total). 

*       Set 3. Writing samples and the final score for each of two writing tasks for 240 examinees, stratified by quartiles, from each form (480 examinees total). 

TOEFL iBT Form Creator software

A software application that creates a standalone application which administers TOEFL iBT items/sections/forms as specified by the researcher -- up to two complete forms.  The TOEFL forms can be customized in a variety of ways (e.g., omitting items/sections, inserting pauses, changing timing) and can be administered on a local PC.  For each test-taker, the form produces as output a scoring file as well as speaking samples (in .wav format) and/or writing samples (in .txt format) when appropriate.

Eligibility and Conditions - Applications are invited from faculty or staff members who are affiliated with not-for-profit organizations and institutions (e.g., universities) with expertise in English language learning and assessment research. Proposals from members of the TOEFL COE and for-profit organizations are not eligible. These studies are not intended to serve as the basis for student theses or dissertations.

Each awardee will be required to submit interim and final reports and to appropriately acknowledge the support of the TOEFL program when disseminating the results of his or her work. 

Application Process 

Interested applicants are required to submit an application as described below. Invitations to submit a full proposal will be issued to selected applicants based on the quality and cost effectiveness of the initial application.

An application must include 

1.      A cover page specifying: 

a.      Title of proposed study

b.      Your name and contact information including address, e-mail, telephone

c.      Date of submission

2.      A précis of no more than 1000 words describing the topic you plan to address, a brief rationale,  the research questions and design including the data to be collected (target population, sample size, etc, if relevant), the instruments to be used, and the analyses to be conducted that answer the research questions. The application should include a time line and a one-line estimate of the total cost, including institutional overhead. (A full budget is not required at the précis stage).

3.      A one page description of the Principal Investigator's qualifications (in short c.v. format).

4.      The names and e-mail contact information for two people who are familiar with your work in this area. 

Evaluation Criteria

Invitations to submit a full proposal will be issued to selected applicants based on the quality of the précis. Précis will be evaluated in terms of the relevance to the identified topics, the feasibility and quality of the proposed research, the qualifications of the Principal Investigator, organizational capacity to conduct the research, and cost effectiveness. Evaluative comments on précis will be sent only to applicants who receive an invitation to submit a full proposal.


June 18, 2010 - Deadline for submission of application and précis.

July 30, 2010 - Response to précis.

October 15, 2010 - Deadline for submission of full proposal.

December 17, 2010 - Response to proposal.

Xiaoming Xi, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Center for Validity Research, MS 09R
Research & Development, ETS
Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541
Tel: (609)7345658 

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