The TOEFL (ITP): A survey of teacher perceptions

Article appearing in Shiken 22.2 (December 2018) pp. 1-13.

Authors: John B. Collins and Nicholas H. Miller
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

We conducted a survey to develop an understanding of teachers’ perceptions of the TOEFL (ITP) and its place within the English language program of a private university in western Japan. Our literature review reflects upon the history of the TOEFL and includes consideration of how three major factors underlying the recent paradigm shift in ELT assessment have contributed to its development. While the results of our survey display general agreement amongst teachers about the importance of the test for students on the program, they equally highlight misgivings about the TOEFL (ITP) as a measure of communicative competence that are consistent with this paradigm shift. Given the low level of agreement among teachers in the survey regarding the validity of the TOEFL (ITP), further investigation into teachers’ perceptions of assessment could help to shed light on what factors underpin teachers views of the validity of the TOEFL (ITP) and language assessment in general. The results of our survey showed the lowest level of agreement among teachers in terms of the alignment of the TOEFL (ITP) with their beliefs about language teaching, as well as varied levels of willingness to teach the TOEFL (ITP), suggesting divergent views of the TOEFL (ITP) amongst teachers. We suggest that further research and discussion of this situation in relation to the broader construct of washback could help to inform decisions surrounding the TOEFL (ITP) and its place in the university’s English program, as well as helping to advance our understanding of assessment washback in and beyond the context within which the present study took place.

Keywords: TOEFL (ITP), language assessment, EFL/ELT teacher perceptions, communicative competence, washback.

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