Construct validity in TOEFL iBT speaking tasks: Insights from natural language processing

Kristopher Kyle, Scott A. Crossley, Danielle McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study explores the construct validity of speaking tasks included in the TOEFL iBT (e.g., integrated and independent speaking tasks). Specifically, advanced natural language processing (NLP) tools, MANOVA difference statistics, and discriminant function analyses (DFA) are used to assess the degree to which and in what ways responses to these tasks differ with regard to linguistic characteristics. The findings lend support to using a variety of speaking tasks to assess speaking proficiency. Namely, with regard to linguistic differences, the findings suggest that responses to performance tasks can be accurately grouped based on whether a task is independent or integrated. The findings also suggest that although the independent tasks included in the TOEFL iBT may represent a single construct, responses to integrated tasks vary across task sub-type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-340
Number of pages22
JournalLanguage Testing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Integrated tasks
  • language use domain
  • natural language processing
  • speaking assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


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