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TOEFL® Committee of Examiners 2017 Research Program
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ETS is pleased to announce the TOEFL® Committee of Examiners (COE) 2017 Research Program. Applications described below should be submitted via email to TOEFLRC@ets.org by July 15, 2016.

4/14/2016 to 7/15/2016
When: Thursday, April 14, 2016
Where: United States

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TOEFL® Committee of Examiners 2017 Research Program

ETS is pleased to announce the TOEFL® Committee of Examiners (COE) 2017 Research Program. Applications described below should be submitted via email to TOEFLRC@ets.org by July 15, 2016.

Purpose

TOEFL COE research grants are intended to support research on topics related to the TOEFL iBT® test and the TOEFL ITP® Assessment Series, promoting high-quality language assessment research as judged by the COE and Educational Testing Service (ETS). Applications that employ diverse and innovative research methodologies are encouraged.

Award Value

Studies involving the collection of new empirical data can normally be funded up to US$100,000. This amount includes institutional overhead. ETS prefers to select bids which respect its nonprofit status. We therefore request that the overhead rate not exceed 15 percent.

Research Topics

1. Test Format and Delivery
1.1 Investigate teachers' and students' perceptions of testing conditions and modes of delivery, in particular for speaking and writing assessments.
1.2 Investigate the effects on test performance of different testing conditions and modes of delivery, in particular for speaking and writing assessments.

2. Test Use/Policy Implications
2.1 Investigate the interpretation and uses of TOEFL iBT and/or TOEFL ITP total and/or section scores, possibly combined with other information, for one or more of the following decision-making purposes: (a) admissions, (b) placement into and/or exiting from a program, (c) awarding financial support, and (d) other educational or professional purposes. Also investigate the test takers' perceptions of the decision-making process and the consequences of these decisions.
2.2 Investigate the policy implications for the validity and interpretability of TOEFL iBT and/or TOEFL ITP test scores.
2.3 Conduct studies to establish the appropriate TOEFL iBT and/or TOEFL ITP test scores for different test takers and purposes (e.g., validating cut scores for specific uses).

3. Cognitive Processes and Demands Underlying Test Takers' Responses
Investigate cognitive processes, cognitive demands, and test-taker responses on TOEFL iBT and/or ITP test items, including skill-specific as well as integrated tasks, from the perspective of the interactional and situational authenticity of English academic domains. Of particular interest are studies that:
3.1 Investigate the relationship between, and authenticity of, test tasks and in situ English-language use tasks for academic purposes.
3.2 Provide insights into elements of task design and their effects on test-taker cognition and performance.

4. Domain Analysis
Identify and examine specific domains and contexts of English-medium instruction around the world, and consider the implications for the design of TOEFL iBT/ITP. For example, of interest are studies that:
4.1 Identify and examine the English communication demands that are typical of technology-mediated learning environments (such as flipped/hybrid classrooms, web-based distance coursework and high-tech classrooms).
4.2 Identify and examine the English communication demands that are typical of content courses in English-medium universities or specific programs, in regions where English is not the primary language.
4.3 Characterize the use of English in English-medium instructional contexts from the perspective of English as a Lingua Franca.

5. Other
Consideration will be given to research on other issues or innovations related to the TOEFL iBT or TOEFL ITP tests.

TOEFL iBT test 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 two test forms are available and include scores accompanied by demographic information about test takers (age, gender, native language, etc.) and copies of relevant test materials:

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

TOEFL iBT Form Creator Software

Software that creates a stand-alone application which administers TOEFL iBT test items/sections/forms as specified by the researcher — up to two complete forms. The 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 an output of 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 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, in addition to appropriately acknowledging the support of the TOEFL program when disseminating the results of the funded work.

Letter of Institutional Commitment

Proposals must include a letter committing the applicant's institution to the proposal and stating its validity for a period of at least ninety (90) days from the proposal's deadline date. The original letter must be signed by a representative of the institution's contracting office with commitment authority, and must be submitted with the proposal. The contracting officer may obtain a sample ETS grant agreement by submitting a request to pmills@ets.org. Proposals will not be reviewed for consideration until such a letter has been received.

Optional Letter of Intent

Interested researchers are strongly encouraged, but not required, to submit a brief (maximum one page) letter of intent by May 1, 2016. The letter should be submitted electronically to TOEFLRC@ets.org, should have "Intent to apply" in the subject line, and should contain the following information: (1) The name and address of the principal investigator's higher education or research institution, and the names and affiliations of any co-investigators; (2) the research topic that the proposal addresses; and 3) a very brief description (one paragraph) of the proposed study. Receiving letters of intent from potential applicants informs ETS about the approximate number of applications that may be received and allows for more efficient planning of the grant review process. Applicants who do not send this letter may still submit an application by the July 15, 2016, deadline.

Application Process

Proposal materials must be submitted via email to TOEFLRC@ets.org by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Friday, July 15, 2016.

Submissions must include the following documents:

  • Two copies of the study proposal (one blind copy, one non-blind copy; detailed requirements provided on the website)
  • Principal Investigator's CV
  • Letter of Institutional Commitment
  • Please see Conditions Applicable to All Grant Awards for more details (PDF)

Contact

If you have additional questions about the application process or the grant in general, please contact us at TOEFLRC@ets.org.

Schedule

July 15, 2016 — Deadline for submission of full proposals
October 31, 2016 — Responses to proposals mailed

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